Letters to the Editor
Read what our readers have to say about Maine.
- Photography by: Dean Abramson
Where in Maine?
Your September mystery image, the Wyoming, “evocation” as we call it, was more familiar to me than the tip of my nose. I was very much involved in the founding of Maine Maritime Museum nearly fifty years ago and the acquisition, not too long after, of the Percy and Small Shipyard, where the construction of the largest wooden sailing ship ever built occurred.
Recently the museum was given six steel masts and received a bequest sufficient to do the work necessary to erect one of them. People interested in funding one of the five remaining masts to complete the sculpture, perhaps as a tribute to someone, should contact Janice Kauer in the Development Office at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath.
—Charles E. Burden, M.D.
Cod in the Gulf
I would like to express my concern about the excerpt from Paul Greenberg’s book, The Four Fish, that you published in your August issue. Greenberg utterly failed to include the ecosystem-based strategy I discussed with him and he erroneously stated that I advocated breaking the Gulf of Maine into small compartments to be assigned to individual fisherman. I have always proposed the opposite. As a fisheries researcher and lifelong fisherman, I object to his attributing such outrageous statements to me.
In contrast to Greenberg’s misstatements, I described a layered management plan based on the principle of Maine’s lobster zones, but adapted to bracket the area used by the four cod subpopulations in New England. Each of these were about 3,500 square miles; not a compartment, but a management area with elected fishermen whose intimate local knowledge would allow them to help managers improve the fishery, just as Maine did so successfully with its lobster zones.
The proposed layers were designed to identify and protect local spawning grounds, nursery areas, and estuaries that only occur within twenty miles of the coast and would allow fishermen to have a voice in enhancing the productivity of local stocks. Rather than subdividing the Gulf of Maine into little compartments for fishermen, it offers an ecological approach that minimizes the changes affecting the fishery while ensuring a sustainable fishery and equitable access for all fishing communities.
—Edward P. Ames
Coastal Studies Fellow, Bowdoin
Penobscot East Resource Center
Paul Greenberg responds:
The philosopher of science, Karl Popper, once noted that science is “the art of oversimplification.” If that is the case, then science journalism is the art of oversimplifying the already oversimplified. Ted Ames, I must admit, has caught me red-handed in taking the oversimplification a step too far. He is correct to amend my commentary and point out that he was speaking not of dividing the codfish fishery into pre-assigned lots but rather of bringing management down to a finer scale — a territory that could be managed within proven ecological parameters with the collaboration of people who know the fishery firsthand. A most admirable and important goal. My thanks to Mr. Ames for pointing out my error. I plan to revise the next editions of Four Fish accordingly.
I do think, however, that my closing metaphor in the Down East excerpt — that fishermen must re-imagine themselves more as herders and less as hunters, has credence. What were the first herders like when the last Ice Age ended? Most probably they were hunters who gradually came to realize that they could establish a stable, long-term relationship with their prey if they became more knowledgeable and intimate with those animals’ lifecycles. Let codfish remain wild game. But let those who hunt codfish come to understand codfish habits and limitations as well as any herder understands his flock.
The “North by East” item in your August issue about the apostrophe, or lack thereof, in Owl’s Head/Owls Head is the perfect example of why I read your magazine. It was witty, informative, and the last sentence is pure brilliance. I vote for Owl’s Head because I was told it was named after the rock formation that looks like an owl’s head.
It was good to see your September package about the state parks in Maine, which mentioned Sebago Lake State Park. In early summer Songo Beach is so very eroded and receded that there is no beach in some areas and very little in the rest. Prior to the late 1980s, Sebago Lake had Maine’s most outstanding inland beaches in the organized townships, according to a 1988 State Planning Office Study. Tom Skolfield, a former Southern Regional State Park director, was demoted by Ron Lovaglio, Angus King’s Department of Conservation Commission, because Skolfield had been vocal in opposition against the SD Warren Company’s (now SAPPI) change in lake level regulation in the late 1980s. The higher water was decimating and flooding the beaches. Lovaglio is now Northeast Regional Manager for SAPPI. Skolfield upheld the public trust to try and protect Maine’s greatest valuable natural assets.
President, Friends of Sebago Lake
Your September issue arrived today, and I have been screaming “hurrah” for the Republicans of Maine all day after reading your “Brewing Up a Storm” article. I like their new platform. It rings of common sense, which has become the scarcest commodity on the market today. I left Maine when I was seventeen years old, and I am ninety-three now. Never did like anything moderate! Drink my coffee black, my whiskey straight, and my politics undiluted.
—Mary G. Taylor
I am trying hard to understand why your September package on Saco and Biddeford would fail to mention that there is a museum in the heart of Saco’s National Register District that embraces that shared history as the largest part of its mission and program. Even if the Saco Museum was still the modest, antiquarian institution that it was twenty-five or fifty years ago, it would still have borne mentioning if only for its outstanding collections. But now that the Saco Museum is a vital, forward-looking organization with nationally funded programs that knit together the varied communities of the cities on the Saco, its omission from your article is a grave oversight.
—Jessica Skwire Routhier, Museum Director
Dyer Library and Saco Museum
Charlotte’s Real Web
Your September article by Elizabeth Peavey searching out the characters in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web brings to mind a little-publicized bit of info. It is the fact, or so the story goes, that E.B. named his spider after a vivacious young lady who grew up in North Brooklin. Her married name here was Charlotte Humphrey and we have it on good authority that she was the namesake of that famous spider known around the world for kindness and motherly wisdom.
- Photography by: Dean Abramson