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Fishing in Maine.

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
1,877
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
"I've never seen so much gear in the water! From here to Castine,..." , this we overheard anchored in a very private spot about 100 yards from a commercial lobster float in Pulpit Harbor this week. Summer is winding down for many but for lobstermen, we've just entered the pinnacle of their season where they make most of their earnings.
6-30 am home.jpg


The float is a satellite station for a large broker located in Stonington on Deer Isle. This past weekend, the dock was busy with traffic dropping off catch and picking up bait, during all daylight hours.

The dock ran out of bait, the fuel of the lobster industry. Here a boat scrapes up the last of the frozen bait leaving the dock covered in cardboard crates. There is a bait shortage this season (there often is) due to overfishing of Herring stocks in the rapidly warming Gulf of Maine.
Loading bait.jpg

Another pallet of frozen bait (species from afar) arrives as fishing boats hover around. A local fisherman sets a gill net for Pogies (Menhaden) which have overtaken much of Maines coast in the last few years largely replacing Mackeral in many harbors.

It takes him nearly 2 hours of grueling work to haul the net - by hand - into his boat. His little boy plays nearby. The new Pogie fishery, just opened on a limited basis(also overfished), is strictly for supplying bait to the lobster industry. All kinds of exotic new baits are being marketed with limited success.
Hauling pogeys.jpg

The gill nets are good news to this Bald Eagle (common these days, amazingly) that tried in vain to steal Mackerel from the talons of the faster Osprey gorging themselves. The wounded Pogies are fair game for the slow eagles.
Eagle snags a pogie.jpg

Fishing for a living, that's our coast. Warming sea water is a conveyor belt along New England marching species steadily North, to cooler water, and bringing new species in, from warmer water down South.

A new generation of fishermen (of all species) have taken the wheel during these changing times. Our changing fishery is keeping everyone on their toes, adapting.

This young crew, carbon sooted flag flying over an expensive investment, worked dawn to dusk all weekend long I noticed. All their gear is out now (800 trap limit). Make or break time.

The bottle in the drink holder was un opened. It could be reserved for the end of the day or the end of an era.
Fishing for a living.jpg
 
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Feb 3, 2015
266
Marlow Hunter 37 Reefpoint Marina Racine, WI
Great photos. I love the first one (top). Interesting commentary on the changing fisheries and how fishermen are adapting.
 
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Jun 14, 2010
991
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
There is a bait shortage this season (there often is) due to overfishing of Herring stocks in the rapidly warming Gulf of Maine.
I've read that the Maine lobster industry is sustainable. But I wonder about your comments regarding baitfish and other species. Worldwide fish populations are being depleted due to overfishing and unsustainable practices. It's a complex problem that would be significantly alleviated if people shift their cultural norms about food. Livestock production and overfishing are not sustainable at our current human population level.
This recipe is so good it’s almost addictive https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/vegan-no-tuna-salad-sandwich/#gs.6arssl
 
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TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
1,877
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Wow! That does look good Larry, tuna or not.

You're right, our lobster industry does tout itself as sustainable. The problem for Maine fishermen is that the American Lobster is migrating North in response to warming ocean temperatures. Long Island Sound was not long ago (30-40 yrs), a great lobster ground.

As the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming bodies of water on the planet means they're moving pretty rapidly. Maine lobstermen all have local districts they fish. Once the lobsters move beyond, the fishermen can not follow.

The epicenter of the industry is moving at something like 10 miles per season.

Fishing is an interesting culture to watch and Pulpit Harbor is a great place to spectate right now. Last weekend, yachts of all kind filtered in to anchor for the night.
Pulpit Rock yachts crop.jpg

Maine is one of the most un-diverse states. However, on the water, can be different. Like agriculture where migrants fill many jobs the fishing industry draws people from around the world. Gleaming yachts from away rub shoulders with thousands of small fishing operations, most single owners.
Sunday morning_.jpg

Labor, bait, fishermen seem to survive everything -except- no fish to catch.

According to the tracking of the American Lobster that's been going on for decades, the epicenter of the species will soon be located in Canadian waters.

This will be a challenge for Maine lobstermen.
Heading out Sunday morning._.jpg
 
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Nov 7, 2012
674
1978 Catalina 30 Wilbur-by-the-Sea
Having grown up on the Maine coast it is sad to hear about the bait fish situation. I remember going out on a friends boat jigging for mackerel to make chum. Fishery management is very important. I think the scrapping up the scraps may be not because of a shortage but good planning, who wants to leave bait on the dock to go to waist, you just need to buy what you are going to use.

Went to Coastal Water Temperature Guide to try too look up some water temps. Can not seem to locate the link for historical data. Looking at the current stuff it looks about what I remember in the early 90s we were lucky 58 in summer It may of hit 60 for a day or two in August. Cold as crap and diving with a wet suit.

We really need to take steps to ensure our fisheries remain viable, veganism as a lifestyle if fine but I would miss my seafood. Also the issue of choline and cognitive development in humans is a thing...
 
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Jun 14, 2010
991
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
Also the issue of choline and cognitive development in humans is a thing.
@The Garbone maybe an issue for vegans who eat too much processed foods. Not an issue if the diet is rich in whole, minimally processed plant foods, including portions from all the major plant food groups: Legumes (beans, lentils, peas) or soyfoods, nuts or seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables including brightly colored and dark green. This will supply a source of important essential vitamins and minerals to your diet, including calcium, iron, zinc, and choline. Nuts and nut butter, beans, mushrooms, quinoa, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts are good plant-based sources of choline.
 
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Feb 11, 2017
197
Gulfstar 1979 Gulfstar 37 BELFAST
Fishing and aquaculture are changing here in Maine. This land based salmon farm Nordic Aquafarms | Sustainable Aquaculture project is currently going through a rigorous permitting process here in Belfast. There is a second land based project undergoing similar development in Bucksport.

These land based aquaculture businesses while controversial here are likely the future. There has been water based salmon farming going on here for years, as well as coastal New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, unfortunately there have been several escapes of farmed fish into the wild and that creates serious problems. Washington state has banned Atlantic salmon farms from their waters, which makes sense, too many releases of a non-native species. After 3 Decades, Washington State Bans Atlantic Salmon Farms

It remains to be seen if the leftovers from salmon farming are suitable for lobster bait.....many things are being tried including pig hide.


Tom, as an interesting aside the power yacht in the background of the shot with the pretty blue sloop looks like Blue Guitar, which does not belong to Eric Clapton. The owner has a home over on Cape Rosier and she ( the boat) is often seen around Penbay. We ran into her once, not literally, in the BVI.
 
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TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
1,877
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
I got a shot of the name (currently) and the boat is in fact AURORE which was in Belfast listed for sale. It appears it sold. Perhaps it was BLUE GUITAR?

 
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TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
1,877
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Interesting following your Nordic Aquafarms progress and controversy. Seems there should be an outlet for salmon left overs.

When we ran our fish market in Camden, I kept an open tank of a couple hundred lobsters in the shop. They were kept alive with a swimming pool pump in the harbor below.

A favorite treat for the lobsters was a whole large fish skeleton, especially a salmon rack, after the fish were filleted.

I would drop those in the tank, and the 'boys' would go wild!

But then, lobsters aren't too picky I found out. Many mornings I'd notice an empty shell sitting all alone in the corner, and everybody looking the other way in the tank.
 
Feb 11, 2017
197
Gulfstar 1979 Gulfstar 37 BELFAST
Aurore is a regular at Front Street, captained by a really nice guy. They did a big refit a couple of years ago......beautiful yacht. I think BG is still owned by the same person/group.
 
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Jun 14, 2010
991
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
I hope the fish farms in Maine are better than the ones in other parts of the world. My eye was caught recently by this documentary.
Farmed Norwegian Salmon World’s Most Toxic Food - YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYYf8cLUV5E
Makes me very unhappy to see this. It’s isn’t as "fake newsy" as it sounds. Actually worth a watch and understanding. Pretty disturbing, but it was well done and well researched. If someone’s still eating fish, IMHO they should avoid farmed fish because I don't think the average store really knows much about the feed and conditions of the fish source, and no regulations or controls exist that a consumer can have confidence in.
 
Jan 6, 2006
2,229
Beneteau 423 Mt. Sinai, NY
I hope the fish farms in Maine are better than the ones in other parts of the world. My eye was caught recently by this documentary.
Farmed Norwegian Salmon World’s Most Toxic Food - YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYYf8cLUV5E
Makes me very unhappy to see this. It’s isn’t as "fake newsy" as it sounds. Actually worth a watch and understanding. Pretty disturbing, but it was well done and well researched. If someone’s still eating fish, IMHO they should avoid farmed fish because I don't think the average store really knows much about the feed and conditions of the fish source, and no regulations or controls exist that a consumer can have confidence in.
We are lambs to slaughter.......
 
Apr 14, 2009
634
Sabre 28 NH
I hope the fish farms in Maine are better than the ones in other parts of the world.
You know it just like hatchery raised trout. In the long run it probably will have a negative impact on Penobscot Bay, especially the western portion.
 
Feb 11, 2017
197
Gulfstar 1979 Gulfstar 37 BELFAST
You know it just like hatchery raised trout. In the long run it probably will have a negative impact on Penobscot Bay, especially the western portion.
For years and years the amount of unregulated effluent that was dumped into Penobscot Bay from fish processing and chicken processing in Belfast and upriver in Bangor, far exceeds the amount of filtered and processed water from the processing at the salmon farm. I have an old Cruising guide from the 70's that basically says avoid Belfast at all costs, it is now a destination of choice for many cruisers. I live and work here and keep my boat in Belfast and sail the waters of Penobscot bay......I can assure you that the amount of raw sewage that gets dumped into the bay from the communities along it during stormwater runoff periods is a larger problem.

There is alot of good news here, Nordic and the city of Belfast are being transparent in this whole process. If anyone is interested it is possible to spend some quality time reading all the documents and Q and A from the informational meetings here Nordic Aquafarms | Belfast, ME - Official Website
Regarding Larrys post about the feed and issues around it, these are certainly major concerns for all of us that are not choosing a plant based diet.

This is a statement from Nordic about their food source from last year:
“Nordic Aquafarms is not ready to finalize a feed choice because we are still two years away from feeding any fish in Maine, while new sustainable ingredients are rapidly emerging in the supplier markets,” the company wrote.
The company has gone on the record that it plans to pursue sustainable feed ingredients that are non-GMO and is fully USDA and FDA approved. The feed will also be fully traceable," Hopefully the Maine DMR will approve the use of Salmon parts as bait....we'll see.


"There was a time not so long ago when the crystalline waves of Penobscot Bay were stained with chicken blood. Chicken bones, feathers, offal, and fat bobbed in the otherwise pristine waters off the coast of Belfast, earning the town the embarrassing moniker of “Schmaltzville”, German for chicken fat."
 
Apr 14, 2009
634
Sabre 28 NH
Being an avid angler for most of my life I drew upon the hatchery raised trout comparision to farm raised fish. There is a difference when compared to wild raised species.

Although I don't live there, I've been hanging out in that part of Maine for the last 50 years. The words & pictures that describe what Belfast Harbor & the bay used to look like do it no justice. It was downright disgusting.

Belfast is now a beautiful & thriving community. It has become the number 1 place in Maine for people to retire to. Why mess that up with what has been touted as the worlds largest fish farm? I don't get it. If you took the money off the table that Belfast stands to acquire for this factory fish farm, I suspect peoples answer would be no.

Everyones perspective is different & although the harbor & bay is cleaner than it has been in the past "pristine" is not a word I'd use to describe it in regard to water quality. I wouldn't swim in the harbor let alone even consider eating fish caught there or in the bay. Due to all the unregulated dumping that took place over many years, the harbor & bay are loaded with heavy metals.

I love the place & since retiring I spend 10-12 weeks living on the boat up there during the summer. I'd hate seeing this place become a train wreck again all because of money.
 
Oct 1, 2007
1,369
Hunter 44DS Pt. Judith
Being an avid angler for most of my life I drew upon the hatchery raised trout comparision to farm raised fish. There is a difference when compared to wild raised species.

Although I don't live there, I've been hanging out in that part of Maine for the last 50 years. The words & pictures that describe what Belfast Harbor & the bay used to look like do it no justice. It was downright disgusting.

Belfast is now a beautiful & thriving community. It has become the number 1 place in Maine for people to retire to. Why mess that up with what has been touted as the worlds largest fish farm? I don't get it. If you took the money off the table that Belfast stands to acquire for this factory fish farm, I suspect peoples answer would be no.

Everyones perspective is different & although the harbor & bay is cleaner than it has been in the past "pristine" is not a word I'd use to describe it in regard to water quality. I wouldn't swim in the harbor let alone even consider eating fish caught there or in the bay. Due to all the unregulated dumping that took place over many years, the harbor & bay are loaded with heavy metals.

I love the place & since retiring I spend 10-12 weeks living on the boat up there during the summer. I'd hate seeing this place become a train wreck again all because of money.
The counter point is that Maine is a difficult place to find a job for folks who are not retired, are not vacationers, and who need to earn a living for themselves and their families. So the opportunity to create new jobs usually draws strong support from the inhabitants and local political figures. The opposition to the creation of those jobs is unfortunately often people who do not live locally, are perhaps retired, or like to vacation in Maine. It is easy to imagine the resentment created when groups campaign within Maine to stop the creation of those jobs. We no longer reside in Maine but I personally witnessed this dynamic on a number of occasions back in the day. It should be the decision of Maine residents, consistent with existing regulations, whether projects such as this fish farm should go forward.
 
Oct 19, 2017
5,213
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Tom, your article is inspiring and your pictures, as usual, are brilliant. Thanks.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Oct 2, 2008
3,047
Pearson/ 530 Strafford, NH
We have seen this story repeated in some form all along the east coast and through the Bahamas. Young couples working hard to make what they can from a constantly changing food supply.