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Herring Coverage misses mark

August 01, 2006

Commercial Fisheries News
August 2006

To the Editor:

I am writing to share my concern about your coverage of the herring fishery in our waters. Over the last 10-15 years, midwater trawlers have moved into the Gulf of Maine and have been removing herring at a deadly rate. Herring are the foundation of the ecosystem, and without them, there is no ecosystem.

The Gulf of Maine is a dead zone. There are no whales, no tuna, and no birds. No tuna will be caught in Maine this year. No whales will be seen on Maine whale watch trips. The blue sharks have been absent since three years ago and the porpoise for a year or more. I could go on and on, but to be honest, it is too depressing.

From my perspective, CFN needs to do more to alert everyone to the problem we are facing. The recent July issue didn’t do nearly enough enough to stress the importance of the herring problem. The herring are not doing fine and that is why we have no tuna. Plain and simple. The tuna will NOT come here if there is no food. The fact that the sand eels have been able to bring in fish this year is proof of what we have been saying.

And this is more than a problem with just a lack of tuna.

The groundfish will never rebuild if the herring are not around. Someone was telling me the other day that the last few years, the cod have been leaving Jeffreys by mid-June, eerily similar to the departure of tuna around the same time.

But even more important, the lobster fleet is going to pay the biggest price in all of this. Right now, the guys from Perkins Cove cannot even find bait. Two of them drive to Rockland today to buy bait, and when they got there they could only find herring caught in Canada. While only “anecdotal”, theyw ere told the trawlers couldn’t find any herring. If lobstermen think it is a pain paying extra for herring, just wait until there are none to buy at all.

And yet, nobody seems to be listening. Is it going to take a complete herring collapse to bring change? Is it going to take a complete collapse to show that the “science” is incorrect? There are no herring and all one needs to do is take a trip out to the Gulf of Maine. Where there was once a vibrant ecosystem you will only see water.

We are on the brink of disaster and I just wish CFN would take this problem more seriously. A little bit of common sense couldn’t hurt anyone.

Chris Weiner
Perkins Cove
Ogunquit, ME

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