Pembroke selectmen seeking superintendent for Herring Fisheries Commission

Pembroke selectmen seeking superintendent for Herring Fisheries Commission

By Mike Melanson
Wicked Local Pembroke
Posted Jul 02, 2013 @ 09:05 AM

Pembroke - Selectmen will appoint a superintendent to oversee the Herring Fisheries Commission.

On Monday July 1 the board voted 5-0 on a motion by Selectman Bill Boulter, seconded by Selectman Michelle Burt, to re-establish the position of superintendent. In the past, the town budgeted $2,400 for the position. This time, it will be unpaid volunteer work.

Board members spoke of a potential candidate with some experience, but invited residents interested in the tough and dangerous work of clearing the Herring Run to send a resume or letter of interest to the selectmen's office by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 12. Selectmen meet next on July 15.

Members of the Herrings Fisheries Commission objected to the selection process, saying they would prefer to elect a superintendent from within the commission, but would welcome an additional hand.

Herring Fisheries Commissioner Mark Ames said members labor in the water in January, February and March, clearing ways for herring to migrate. Nevertheless, they get the job done and well, he said.

"It's freezing. Many times there's icy conditions," he said. "It's brutal out there. It's a very unsafe job."

Approximately 30 people in attendance jeered after the vote to re-establish the superintendent position, and a handful heckled Boulter throughout the meeting.

Boulter, who chaired the town's 300th Anniversary Committee, has appealed a Conservation Commission order to lift a waterwheel commissioned by the committee out of the Herring Run.

Ames, who was reappointed to the commission Monday, criticized selectmen and said the board was allowing Boulter to use his position of power to influence events.

"You're allowing a person to use the bully pulpit," Ames said. "You have allowed it."

Boulter said there has been problems during the commission's history of clearing streams and keeping them clear, and there is a better need to educate the public against throwing garbage, trees and other stuff into the waterways.

"A superintendent would be in order," he said. "He's going to make sure a lot of this stuff is done and he'll answer to selectmen directly."

Carey Day, who was appointed to the Herring Fisheries Commission by selectmen Monday, said he has volunteered at the Herring Run for four years.

Day said three superintendents oversaw the town's herring fisheries maintenance from 1973 to 1998, but the herring declined over the years, with zero fish returning by 1998. The river herring population has increased dramatically since then, he said.

In 1998, the Herring Fisheries Commission was formed by a vote of the selectmen. Two superintendents who split $2,400 in salary resigned approximately one week after the vote. The salary line was reallocated to herring fisheries expenses. For instance, some of the money was used to buy chainsaws for volunteers to use to clear ways, Day said.

Day said the current Herring Fisheries Commission has a combined 65-years experience, and that Ames has a good working relationship with the Brockton Water Department, which draws water from town ponds.

"The Pembroke Herring Fisheries Commission currently works. Don't try to fix what isn't broken," he said. "The Herring Fisheries Commission should be applauded, not scrutinized."

Day said selectmen should focus on unfunded pension and other post employment benefit costs and a budget that is out of balance, or at least let the superintendent to be filled from within the commission.

"This seems somewhat like a fishing expedition," he said.

Boulter said a concerned resident alerted him to the stream being littered in the area of Hobomock Street and Mountain Avenue.

Ames said the area is a cut-through for school children and people build bridges in order to cross the water.

He said volunteers could clear the entire run in one month, but with the tide and people throwing garbage out there, the blockages would all come back.

"It gets so that tires seem to be a wetland species," he said.

Selectman Dan Trabucco said he did not understand why there is a problem or a need for a change, and there would be bad blood if someone were to join the commission as superintendent.

"I have no problem bringing him on to the commission. I do have a problem bringing him on as a superintendent," Trabucco said.

Craig Richmond, Douglas Sprague, Richard Rounds and Andrew Key were also re-appointed to the Herring Fisheries Commission by selectmen during Monday's meeting.

From Forum

Herring Public Forum Exemption to Wetland Act for herring protection
DaveC > 25-July-2016

Herring Run Counts 2015 Herring Counts
DaveC > 25-July-2016

Herring Management Town Brook alewives get a free ride to Billington Sea
KnightofNi > 29-April-2016

Herring Public Forum River Herring Migration Series at WHOI
KnightofNi > 30-April-2015

Eels Fines Increased for Herring Poaching
Jones River > 15-April-2015

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