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News from Maine - Committee seeks to ‘re-establish local control’ over alewife fishery 2-19-15

Castine Patriot, February 19, 2015
Committee seeks to 're-establish local control' over alewife fishery

by Anne Berleant

An new advisory committee formed to address alewife fishing in Penobscot waters has hooked its first guest. Claire Enterline of the Maine Department of Marine Resources will meet with the committee on Tuesday, February 24, to discuss the alewife program.
Enterline is a DMR specialist responsible for alewife monitoring and harvests who wrote, in a 2014 press release, that "the benefits of a strong, well-managed alewife run can't be overstated."
Clam Warden Bailey Bowden led the call to create the new committee, which held its first meeting earlier this month.
"I think we need to reestablish the town's right to have local control over the harvest," he said in a recent phone call. "We lost [it] just because of a technicality."
The DMR suspended the right of Penobscot to commercially harvest alewives in 2011 because of a lack of statistical reporting.
Alewives are a species of herring and, in Maine, weigh about one-half pound each. The current town ordinance allows 25 alewives to be caught per day for personal use and bars the use of throw nets. But selectmen noted in July 2013 that the fish were being harvested far above the limit, despite the ordinance and the presence of an alewife warden.
Twenty-five alewives is "a pretty small amount of fish," said Bowden. "That's really not even enough to bother smoking. That's not enough to sell for lobster bait or for lobstermen to consider going and catching for bait."
Alewives run up Mill Stream to Pierce Pond and up Winslow Stream to Wight's Pond each spring. In 2014, the DMR provided a new fish ladder at Wight's Pond to replace one stolen in 2012.
Bowden said his goal is "to increase the number of fish that we have so that we have a sustainable fishery." He added that the local pronunciation of the fish is "ell fish."
"If you look under the archaic version in the Merriam Webster Dictionary, 'ell fish' is the term of the fish," he said. "'Ale wife' is a woman who owns a tavern."
Alewife Committee Meeting
Tuesday, February 24, 5:30 p.m., Town Hall. Committee members: Bailey Bowden, Bill Hutchins, David Wardwell, Eddie Wardwell and Toby Wardwell.

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