Vol. 14, No. 12 - December 2009 News & Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine      SUBSCRIBE NOW!!
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Catch Shares or Share-Croppers?
by Laurie Schreiber

Once upon a far-off time, folks lived in neighborly communities where they knew each other as tinkers, tailors, soldiers and sailors, and sent their children down to the corner mom-and-pop store for eggs and milk from Farmer Brown’s chickens and cow.

Along came faceless corporate efficiency and big-box stores that swallowed up the mom-and-pops and farmed out tinkering and tailoring to China, leaving communities rootless and neighbors disconnected.

“Mom-and-pop” fishermen fear their small businesses could be swallowed up and their communities disrupted by similar corporate forces.

And many fear the federal government is hastening the process.

The analogy is inexact, but there are many small-boat fishermen who think they will be put out of business by a new management process that for the first time would allocate catch shares to individual fishermen and many fear could risk consolidation of fishing opportunities to large corporate entities.

The management process in question involves the setting of annual catch limits (ACL) and a wholesale strategy of establishing “catch shares” to ensure that limits for each fishery are not exceeded.

Many fishing interests are alarmed by a statement from NOAA that says that transitioning to catch shares is a priority. They say that catch shares should not be viewed as a panacea for fisheries management. And they say the strategy privatizes the resource and makes fishing rights a commodity that can be sold to the highest bidder, thus risking consolidation to big business and the eventual exclusion of the small-boat owner/operator fleet and the resulting demise of fishing communities.


More than 300 fishermen in Gloucester, Mass., held a demonstration at NMFS headquarters to protest the concept of catch shares, in flexibility in rebuilding plans, and the specter that their historic fishing rights will be sold to Wall Street speculators. In congressional testimony in October NEFMC member David Goethel predicted contraction of most commercial fisheries in New England into a handful of large boats in large ports. ©Photo by Sam Murfitt

Percy’s Heirs
by Mike Crowe

Mount Katahdin is the crown jewel in the landscape of northern Maine. The highest mountain in the state, at 5,267 feet, it is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Mountain range. It drew reverence from the native Americans for thousands of years before Percival J. Baxter came under its spell.
That spell led Baxter on a quest to preserve it for the people of Maine. While the legacy of many governors has been more like urban sprawl, Baxter’s is the state’s highest mountain surrounded by 209,501 acres of defining north woods for context.

Native Americans in what is now Maine knew its highest mountain as Ktaadn. The Abnaki believed the summit was inhabited by a god who could bring disaster upon those who dared venture there. These days there is not much talk of the god they called Pamola, but those who attempt to summit the peak without heeding the potential dangers, or leave unprepared for the task, often bring disaster on themselves.


Mount Katahdin south face in October. Thick cold clouds can swoop in over the peak suddenly changing weather conditions. Treacherous weather is likely the source of Native American myths about a god who inhabited the peak bring disaster upon those who dared to go there. Photo by Bill Bentley