By Sheila Dassatt
How difficult can it be nowadays for a fisherman and his crew to be completely compliant with all of the rules that are before us? I have asked myself this question, especially lately. Most fishermen, especially when my Dad’s generation was fishing, would tell me, “I just want to fish.” And that is exactly what they did, with the conservation measures in place and a few rules to abide by, of course.
After the lobster traps came up, there was scalloping that could be done for the ones that didn’t mind braving the cold. Then in more recent years, there became offshore lobstering, which has caught on tremendously if they don’t want to be in the more crowded inshore fishery. Spring would roll around, and there was the halibut season and tub trawling until the lobstering started up again in the late spring, such as May or June.
Now, we have the whale rules and all of the rope adaptations that are required to be done by May 1, 2022. I went over all of this in my D.E.L.A. report, so I won’t repeat myself, although this I forgot to mention, the Federal government is trying to mandate that we use a breaking point in our ropes of 1700 pounds, which is in direct conflict with the standards of OSHA. OSHA mandates that we use products in our occupational duties that are deemed safe for the task at hand, so using these break points puts the commercial fisherman in jeopardy of serious injury or even death. You may want to take a look at it if you have any questions.
The same kind of questions go with the area around the wind turbines. When the windmills are in place, there is an area that it would be dangerous to go near them. The last report that I read, when the wind blades get age on them, they may fly off at high speeds and possibly create a dangerous situation if it should land on you. Really!! There is a lot of variables here that we need to take into consideration for our safety once again. Our Fishermen’s Working Group, the advisory group to the Governor concerning wind power, is continuing to meet on a regular basis, and we have another meeting on March 15, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. The topics for this particular meeting is including more details surrounding Navigation and Safety. We will be continuing the discussion of Transmission and Cabling. Also, the members of the Environment and Wildlife Working Group will be joining us.
Andrew Joyce, son of Jason Joyce of Swans Island, has a series of programs that he produced called The Maine Reset: Perspectives on Industrializing the Gulf of Maine. We have all weighed in on these programs, the lobster associations, the fishing associations and scientists, all giving their honest perspective of the wind power that we are now facing. To view these episodes, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/c/The MaineReset/. To contribute to the project: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/industrializing-the-gulf-of-maine-a-docu-series#/.
To contact Andrew, call 207 479-6493; e-mail<firstname.lastname@example.org or his website www.kinowestmedia.com. It is a very informative project and issue.
Another issue that we, as an industry need to know and understand for our own protection, is the knowledge of Maine vs. Federal with the new legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana. I spent time researching about this, as a lot of us did not really know the answer, so I contacted the United States Coast Guard and asked. They were very helpful, (but it was amazing how many agencies that I went through before I could get a straight answer). Here is what I found: “During the course of a boarding where USCG law enforcement officers encounter personal use quantities of marijuana, allegedly possessed in accordance with state laws which allow for personal possession for medical or other purposes, the Boarding Officer shall advise the individual that possession of marijuana, for whatever purpose, remains illegal under federal law. The Boarding Officer shall seize the marijuana, issue the possessor a seizure tag and a Standard Form 95(SF-95) claims for, properly account for, store and destroy the drug contraband in accordance with District established policy.” So here is the answer to our question!
With this being said, it has bothered me for a long time, that a lot of young folks that may want to work in the Federal mandated workplace such as Merchant Marine, Tugboats, Class A Truck Driving, Aeronautics, such as being a Commercial Pilot, all require mandatory and random drug testing. I wouldn’t want to see anyone hurt their future opportunities without having this knowledge. There is a great demand for each of these careers. I see such potential in the next generation and a great need for such leadership. We still have choices in this day and age, but we need to know and understand all of the facts and communication.
These a just a few of the issues that we need to know about, kind of like trying to “balance the scale.” This is in relation to what we can and cannot do, but I know that our fishing and marine industry does the best that we can to comply. I am simply providing this information “for your information.” and you can decide from there.