ChipLakeNEWS InfoSheet

This InfoSheet is number: 1033

Summary: Additional and final discussion about
Alewives in the St. Croix River.

BILL: Thanks again for all your hard work gathering information and passing it along. I, and many others, would be on the outside looking in, rather than being informed. Bob Miller

BILL: Thanks and please keep those cards and letters coming. Hey, that is pretty scary what the guy from Canada had to say about Alewife introduction. Barry Connelly

BILL: About alewives, I have stayed out of the debate because, as I understand it, there is very little science to back up anyones position. Even the scientists don't agree and their opinions are no more valuable than the laymans w/o scientific data. If people perceive that they have a good thing, the Dept. shouldn't change things unless they know what they are doing! Having Canada in the loop really exacerbates the situation. Has anyone asked Larry Marshall where he's coming from? By the way, having field scientists going public and contradicting their bosses is one reason that the Fish Div. will be reviewed next year. How can the Div. be useful to us if you don't know who to believe? Do we have good evidence that the salmon abundance is down in E. Grand. I think that all the wild salmon are gone now and the hatchery fish certainly don't have the genes for chasing smelts. I wonder, is this because the stocked fish came from a lake where there were no smelts? I've fished E. Grand early in the year, every year, for nearly 40 years and what a difference I've seen. Someday, we'll take genetics into consideration in our stocking programs. Its too early for Maine, however. Maybe in 10 years or so. Regards, Vaughn Anthony

[Forwarded e-mail] Wednesday, April 04, 2001
Re: LD #365 - Alewives in the St. Croix
I think the vote will come out 13-11 in our favor. No worse than 12-12. These are the people that voted with us. Senator Woodcock, Rep. Trahan, Rep. Perkins, Rep. Bryant, Rep. Chick, Rep. Volenik, Rep. Pinkham, Rep. McNeil, Rep. Ash, Rep. Clark.
These are the people who voted against us. Senator Carpenter, Senator Lemont, Rep. Honey, Rep. Dunlap, Rep. Lamoine, Rep. Muse, Rep. Sullivan, Rep. Usher (he voted with us the first time) Rep. Bull. These are the people left to vote who I believe will vote with us. Rep. Tracy, Rep. McGlocklin, Senator Pendleton. These are the people left to vote who I believe will vote against us. Senator Kilkelly, Senator Edmonds. I will work the house hard and I'll write a personal letter to every member if that is what I think it takes. We will prevail. Get the guys going on the petitions. Get the gals going on signs. We'll have a protest on the State House lawn. Get Charlie Ben going on more alewife stickers. Get the folks to write personal letters to every Representative. Better if they are short and to the point. We will prevail if we work hard. Forwarded from "Bill" ? [Randall]

"Portland Press Herald Online"
After months of political maneuvering, hours of testimony and several heated debates, two legislative committees deadlocked 10-10 Wednesday on a bill to reopen the St. Croix River to sea-run alewives. The depth of the disagreement among members of the Fisheries and Wildlife and the Natural Resources committees ensures the bill will be just as hotly debated when it comes up for votes in the House and Senate. "It will be a hissy fight," said Rep. Ken Honey, R-Boothbay, the bill's sponsor. Only a few weeks ago, Honey thought the bill, which would reopen the fishways at Woodland and Grand Falls, would easily win committee approval, but opponents have mounted a furious campaign against it.
Washington County anglers, guides and business owners fear alewives could threaten the $5.5 million sport-fishing
industry in the St. Croix watershed. But supporters say unless the fishways are reopened, the alewife run on the river may be lost. The number of alewives migrating into the river has dropped from 2.6 million in 1987 to less than 9,000 last year.
Alewives are important to the Gulf of Maine ecosystem, providing food for groundfish and for osprey and bald eagles. Alewives also are a popular bait fish.
Supporters say the risk to inland fisheries is minimal, especially after the bill was amended to stipulate that
only 90,000 alewives would be allowed through the fishways each year. The amendment also changed the date to reopen the fishways from May 1 2001, to the same date in 2002, mandated reports to the legislative committees every two years, and stipulated that state officials could limit alewives or close the fishways if the alewives caused "any detrimental impact."
Those arguments and amendments convinced Sen. Kenneth Lemont, R-Kittery, who voted for the bill. "I have to look at what's best for the state and best for the fishery and allow them," Lemont said. "They're at the bottom of the food chain. They're very important."
Canadian fisheries officials have said they will truck alewives around the fishways if the Maine Legislature doesn't vote to reopen them. Robert Sousa, the federal aid chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also sent a letter April 2 to Curtis Bentley, the fish and wildlife committee's legal analyst, threatening to withdraw $1.8 million in federal fisheries funds if the fishways aren't reopened. But that threat only infuriated some legislators. "That sounds like an extortion letter to me," Rep. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, told his colleagues. "I don't think you should allow this to have any effect on the way you vote. They're just saying that to pressure you."
Opponents of the bill, including the Grand Lake Conservation Association, the Maine Professional Guides Association and the Passamaquoddy Tribe, argue that alewives will take food from bass, smelts and salmon and could spread disease. Many anglers blame alewives for the collapse of the bass fishery at Spednik Lake on the St. Croix in the 1980s. That's why they persuaded the Legislature to close the fishways in 1995.
Washington County legislators strongly oppose the bill, which convinced some committee members to vote against it Wednesday. Others committee members cited concerns about conflicts with the Maine Indian Land Claims Act. The legislators were told Wednesday that the law requires consultation with the Passamaquoddy Tribe, whose waters will be affected by alewives. But Robert Newell, a Passamaquoddy official, said the tribe has not been consulted about reopening the fishways.
"With the entire Washington County delegation against it and the Passamaquoddys against it, how can we go against them?" said Rep. Royce Perkins, R-Penobscot. "The citizens still rule in this state. The citizens elect these people."

BILL: I have not decided how I would vote on the alewife or the extended fishing seasons yet, but enjoyed reading others' comments. Here's a couple of links pointing to some info on the alewife issue. I anxiously await hearing what the guest speakers at the Fishery Forum have to say. Bill Beavers

[Forwarded e-mail]
I have talked to both Committee clerks this morning regarding the final vote on LD 365. The final vote is a tie with 12 members voting OTP [YES] as Amended and 12 members voting ONTP [NO]. The unknowns, Senators Pendleton, Edmonds, and Kilkelly all voted OTP as Amended going along with Senators Carpenter & Lemont. This hurts us badly in the Senate as Senator Woodcock is the only Senator who voted with us. We fared better with the House members who voted 11-7 with us.
More later if I hear anything. Bill [Randall]
[Forwarded e-mail]
Report of the (May 3rd, Thursday) joint...Senate and Legislative House...standing committee meeting. This is not the final vote before the Maine Legislature. The amended bill received 9 "ought to pass" votes from the committee and 7 "ought not to pass" votes. Eight additional committee members were not present and are still to be polled. Presumably this will move to the floor of the Maine Legislature in the next few weeks. Source unknown.

BILL: I certainly enjoy being updated on events concerning the St. Croix Watershed. Keep it up. The current conflict about alewives and fishway blockages is very troubling. I do not believe it is reasonable for the US to take unilateral action on this issue. I do believe that the current position of anglers (like Bob Upham) is understandable but prejudiced. I know Bob and respect his (and other's) concerns about the great fisheries around Big and Grand Lake, but if the alewives are blocked TOTALLY below Woodland, he may be the ultimate loser. Of course, I allude to the two federal governments involved who will no doubt make at least some of the watershed upstream from Grand Falls available to alewives. Also, I firmly suport the restoration of Atlantic Salmon in the St. Croix and believe alewives must be a part of that restoration. By allowing "controlled numbers" of these smaller fish access we should have both bass and Atlantic fisheries. Ralph C. Keef


[Received by e-mail]
On May 3 the Maine legislature's standing committees on Marine Resources and Inland Fisheries & Wildlife met in a joint working session to reconsider bill LD365 which would reopen two state-controlled fishways (Woodland and Grand Falls) to inbound spawning alewives (gaspereau). The two committees had previously voted on this bill but had nulled that vote in order to reconsider the bill with new amendments. The amended bill is as as follows (the reference to Commissioner or Department refers to those of Marine Resources unless otherwise indicated).
The emergency preamble and emergency clause are struck (meaning that, if passed, it would not take effect until 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature [thus making the issue null for this spring]). The new text would amend 12 MRSA State Statute 6134 to read:

Sec 1. Alewives passage; fishways on the St. Croix River. By May 1, 2002, [next May] the commissioner [of Marine Resources] and the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shall ensure that fishways on the Woodland Dam and the Grand Falls Dam, both located on the St. Croix River, are configured or operated in a manner that allows the passage of no more than 90,000 alewives per year.
Sec 2. Reporting requirement. The department [of Marine Resources] in conjunction with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shall report to the joint standing committee with jurisdiction over inland fisheries and wildlife and the joint standing committee with jurisdiction over marine resources on December 1, 2003 [fishways opened TWO years before the first report is due] and every two years thereafter regarding the impact the run of alewives permitted under this section may be having on upstream ecosystems and fisheries.
Sec 3. Closure of the fishways on the St. Croix River. The commissioners of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Marine Resources, or their sucessor agencies, have rulemaking authority to temporarily or permanently close fishways on the St. Croix River if, the commissioners concur in their assessment, that the fisheries in the St. Croix River are suffering an adverse impact from the presence of an anadromous fish utilizing the fishways on the St. Croix River. The commissioners shall issue a report to the joint standing committees having jurisdiction over inland fisheries and wildlife and marine resources within 90 days of closure of the fishways [IF they close them]. Rules adopted pursuant to this section are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, sub-chapter II-A.

Report forwarded by:
St. Croix International Waterway Commission
Box 610, Calais, ME 04619
#5 Route 1 Dufferin, St. Stephen, NB E3L 2Y8
Tel: (506) 466-7550, Fax: (506) 466-7551

[A RESPONSE to the above report received by forwarded e-mail]
LEE: That's some improvement over the present situation but not good enough, in my view, for two reasons: 1) There should be alewife passage in 2001, which won't happen without the emergency preamble; 2) If several million alewives come back [this spring], as seems very likely to happen, Atlantic salmon are likely to be prevented from access to the fishways by the sheer number of unpassed alewives. Maybe this is the best that can be done in this legislature, but it wouldn't break my heart if the Canadians truck alewives this year. Bill Townsend

[Forwarded e-mail - As addressed to Lee Sochasky, SCIWC]
Lee: In my promise to you and others to always be up front and honest, I submit the following comments. I am absolutely appalled at the arrogance of the Canadian government and it's representative, Larry Marshall. I spent the entire afternoon at the Legislature on a whirlwind conversational tour with as many Representatives & Senators as time would permit and I can tell you that they are as appalled as I am. Many are outright angry that our neighbors who purport to care about Amercians actually don't care about the potential adverse economic impact on the downeast folks. Surprisingly so, at least to me, several members of the Committees who supported your efforts expressed their dissatisfaction with this rash act. Let it be known that I have called Washington, D.C. and spoken to Senator Snowe's staff and Representative Baldacci's staff as well. I also visited Governor King's office and he was leaving so we only had time for a handshake. But rest assured his two staff persons are now fully informed of this Canadian folly. I strongly urge you to use whatever influence or persuasion you might have to prevent further trucking of the alewives. I'm not one to make threats, but I have talked to the Passamquoddy representatives who have sovereignty fishing rights per a Federal treaty and they may implement an action should cessation not take place immediately. I know emotions are running very high at the moment and I pray things don't blossom into something ugly as often happens when entities act against decisions arrived at by peaceful processes.
Respectfully, Bill Randall, 2549 US Route 202, Winthrop, ME 04364 (207) 395-4622 "The man who has no secrets."

BILL: (Late June, 2001) [After the] Maine Legislature voted down a[n emergency] bill for the limited re-opening of the state's St. Croix fishways to spawning alewives [this spring, the] state barriers at Woodland and Grand Falls were installed prior to the fish run and remain in place.
The 2001 anadromous alewife run began on the St. Croix River on Thursday, May 10. Three fish were passed through the Milltown trap on that date and 32 fish on Friday, May 11, for a total weekly run of 35 alewives. [Milltown is the first dam on the St. Croix and alewives are allowed to pass Milltown but not Woodland and Grand Falls dams which are above Milltown.]
The Milltown trap is configured to only allow passage of fish that have been counted; none move upstream without counting. Final figures [as released in weekly updates, are indicated below].

Week ending April 27: 0 fish
Week ending May 4: 0
Week ending May 11: 35
Week ending May 18: 125
Week ending May 25: 1106 [many trucked]
Week ending June 1: 2264 [many trucked]
Week ending June 8: 1576 [many trucked]
Week ending June 15: 42
TOTAL 2001 RUN TO DATE: 5148

Fisheries & Oceans Canada has been trucking alewives from its fishway at Milltown to the Woodland Flowage over the last few weeks. According to a recent interview report, the number moved is [3756].
This year's alewife run is now pretty finished, with just over 5,000 spawners entering the river in total. The number trucked is a portion of this total.
These fish are counted individually; no fish pass the trap without counting. In 9 of the last 10 years, the St. Croix run has concluded by June 13. We believe that the 2001 run has ended: no fish have entered the trap in
the last 4 days, although we continue to monitor. Some post-spawners are beginning to leave the river.
Of the 5148 alewives/gaspereau to enter the Milltown trap, Fisheries & Oceans Canada trucked and released 3756 of these into the Woodland Flowage between May 23 and June 6. They advise that they did not truck fish to any other location and did not bring any fish into the St. Croix system from other locations.
Unless numbers change significantly, we will not be issuing another weekly update. A final count will be included in the year-end anadromous fish report. Lee Sochasky

The "Alewives in the St. Croix River" issue is sleeping at this least it appears so to me...NOT settled, merely sleeping. No new info about the alewife issue.

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