Representative Walter Kumiega
Maine Committee on Marine Resources
c/o Legislative Information
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
RE: LD72 (H.P. 65) An Act to Open the St. Croix River to River Herring
Honorable Christopher Johnson and Honorable Walter Kumiega:
The river herring (blueback herring and alewives) issue facing the Passamaquoddy Tribes in Maine is an important cultural and natural resource issue. Please accept my signature as a Letter of Support for the passage of the above referenced bill.
The Passamaquoddy Tribes of Maine have relied on river herring for thousands of years. These important anadromous fish have been blocked from going back to their spawning grounds for the past 17 years. River herring are important prey species for a number of fish, found in estuaries, freshwater, and saltwater. These species include Atlantic Salmon, bass, trout, bluefish, weakfish, striped bass, cod, pollock, and silver hake to name a few. Other animals and birds also feed on river herring, such as bald eagles, ospreys, kingfisher, blue heron, otters, and other aquatic furbearing mammals. They form an important ecological link to the survival of these species. These sea-run alewives are known to the Passamaquoddy as the “fish that feeds all”. They are indigenous to the Schoodic River watershed, now known as the St. Croix River.
The St. Croix River is jointly shared by the United States, the State of Maine, Canada, and Province of New Brunswick. The headwaters, branches, and streams of the river are found in both countries. The watershed of the river is an ideal nursery environment for spawning fish of all species, creating a fertile and productive source of nutrients and food for countless other fish and wildlife species within this watershed and extending into the saltwater regions of Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy. River herring have been spawning in this watershed for thousands of years. It is only recently that man has determined these fish should be blocked from the natural spawning grounds for reasons to benefit only a few citizens of Maine, to the detriment of not only the Passamaquoddy Tribes but also to all citizens of Maine who rely on a viable fisheries for their livelihood, in both freshwater and saltwater.
It is our understanding that the regional offices of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency are in support of removing this impediment to the river herring and permitting their unfettered passage during their annual migration up the St. Croix River at the Grand Falls dam. These agencies are the experts in their respective fields. We recommend that the Committee utilize their expertise to assist in the decision making process of this bill.
In conclusion, I support the passage of LD72 (H.P. 65) An Act to Open the St. Croix River to River Herring. This Act, when passed, will benefit both the Passamaquoddy Tribes and Maine citizens, whose livelihood depends upon a viable, fertile, fishery that the St. Croix River can provide with passage of this bill.
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