Community Meetings Illustrate Differences
Posted: April 5, 2012
DMR held four meetings earlier this week to solicit feedback on a recently-developed rotational management proposal. While the fishermen in Milbridge and Whiting were interested in the proposal, those in Ellsworth and Hallowell (Penobscot Bay West) were less enthusiastic.
These differences illustrate the difficulties of maintaining a mobile fleet while still tailoring regulations to local preferences. It’s also why fishermen so often accuse managers of “not listening.” When groups of fishermen express diametrically opposed opinions concerning how management should proceed, the eventual compromise often “confirms” many fishermen’s belief that managers weren’t listening to them. In fact, they were listening to them express their opinion, and the guy from the next harbor express a completely different opinion, and the guy from the next harbor express still a different opinion.
I was disheartened to see, yet again, how a vocal uninformed minority can stymie real progress. At several of the meetings, loud mouthed individuals who aren’t even involved in the scallop fishery (at least not legally) managed to keep the meetings off track and seriously reduce their productivity.
Fortunately, Trish DeGraaf and Commissioner Keliher stayed on task, and although they were not presented with the cohesive recommendation they had wanted, they did collect a lot of information about Maine’s scallop fishery and fishermen. They’ve reconfirmed their commitment to putting that knowledge to good use as they work with the SAC and industry to craft regulations for the 2012 season.
A sincere thanks and appreciation is due to Commissioner Keliher, Ms. DeGraaf, and all the open-minded scallop fishermen who had to sit through ignorant diatribes at some of these meetings. This process is difficult, but the rewards at the end will be great.