By Sheila Dassatt

        The fishing season has started full tilt and the meetings are also very important right now, so I am happy to have this opportunity to share with everyone.  I feel that the meetings have been very necessary and being in the middle of lobstering, we have a front row seat with how everything is going.  On a positive, the Stonington Lobsterboat Races were held on my birthday this year!  I was very fortunate to have my family here over the weekend.  Glenn and Cathy stayed over the weekend and my daughter, Christy, Murray and daughter Hanna were also joining us. We enjoyed the race and did a lot of eating!  Had a picnic and just plain had a good time. I am telling you this because it has all been what we have needed after the long year of pandemic.  These gatherings are just what we have all needed to get back on track.

        I feel it is my gift to have this space to share, but also feel it is a responsibility to stay in touch with everyone that is involved with the fishing industry, whether it is fishing, lobster or bait dealing, boat builders and suppliers.  This year, we made the move back to Stonington, where all of my roots are and I am so happy to be here.  I have always had a piece of myself here, even when I lived in Belfast. 

        What I am driving at, is when we are doing our best to take care of our environment and take care and protect our livelihoods, you need to understand the whole scenario. Jon brought me a letter that was sent to the Maine Coastal News addressed to me.  He said that I had “fan mail.”  That was a very nice gesture until I opened it.  By the way, thank you, anyway, Jon, you gave me a reason for this article!

        This came from a person that was very opinionated, but did not leave a return address or signed their name at the end of the letter.  Imagine that!  Due to this, it probably doesn’t warrant a reply, but I believe in an open dialog.  Basically, without retyping the entire letter, it stated that according to the windmills, that I had “illogical conclusions” And are apparently against windmills without scientific evidence notwithstanding.  Basically the fishing industry is to blame for a lot of our shortages, cod, boat building supplies, over fishing and so on…

        I have been part of the windmill discussions ever since the onset of this whole endeavor, with the Governor’s Energy Office and the Board that has been part of the informational meetings.  These meetings are very informative with our own scientists showing the diagrams and charts of how these windmills are designed, especially under the water.  This is why there is one approved research site for these prototypes.  We also had a webinar that was with the Department of Marine Resources and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, that also has concerns about these prototypes.  A lot of time and study has gone into the effects of the underwater life and the birds and above water life.  This is not just a whim, these are real concerns with real scientists doing the studies.

        I am involved because I care about the livelihoods of our industry.  My husband and I and our entire family are also living it.  When a person lives on the coast, especially on an island, there is not a lot of industry going on, we are totally dependent on the fishing industry.  There are no shopping malls, Dunkin Donuts (inside joke) or fast food stores. There is also no industry such as window factories, potato processing or even sardine factories any longer.  We are totally dependent on our way of life.  This is one big reason why we might be “a little concerned.”  This has been the only way of life for generations, not just something new and brought here for the fun of it, like a new lobster roll stand. Don’t take me wrong, they are a nice addition to the needs of “fast food” and they taste much better than the cheap hamburgers that aren’t so cheap any more.

        Right now, there is a big division of folks out there, you have the ones that are “saving the environment, saving whales, and doing all that they can to save the environment due to global warming.”  The only thing that they don’t understand, is that the fishermen are very aware of these same issues and do all that we can to do our part.  The fishing generations have always been “stewards of the sea” which goes back to our fathers, grandfathers and so on back.  Maine started the conservation of the lobster population, which is why we have the V-notch for female egg bearing lobsters and the lobster gauge that limit’s the size of the lobsters that we can take.  It is all in the name of conservation, so we can enjoy and still have the resource for our next generations to come.

        So whoever you are, thank you for writing your letter, picking our industry apart, it gave me the incentive to write my reply and get a lot of this out in the open.  I don’t expect to have everyone agree with me, we all have our reasons, but I will always speak up for our livelihoods and our industry, wouldn’t you?