The Press Herald broke news last week that seven square miles of the Penobscot River were being closed immediately to lobster fishing thanks to mercury poisoning.
Arms were raised, people were shocked, accusations of coverups flew. The usual.
What else is “the usual”? Fishery closures in Maine because of pollution. If you've visited beaches in Maine, you've almost certainly seen one of these:
If you’d like to drop your jaw, check out Maine’s list of beaches/shores/rivers partially or completely closed to shellfishing. Here's Kennebunkport:
There are dozens more. The red bands mark places where the state says it’s dangerous or potentially deadly to eat clams, quahogs, oysters, or mussels harvested. Because of pollution. The list includes all or parts of:
* The Piscataqua and its tributaries in Kittery, Eliot, and South Berwick
* Portsmouth Harbor
* Brave Boat Harbor in Kittery & York; Harris Island
* Long Beach & Cape Neddick, York
* Much (most?) of Ogunquit
* Much (most?) of the Webhannet River in Wells
* Little, Mousam, & Kennebunk Rivers and coastlines in Wells & Kennebunk
* Walker’s Point to Porpoise Cove in Kennebunkport
* Fortune’s Rocks, Horseshoe Cove, Curtis Cove in Biddeford
* Saco Bay in Old Orchard Beach, Saco, & Biddeford
* Prouts Neck, Scarborough
* Casco Bay from Cape Elizabeth to southern tip of Falmouth
* Parts of Yarmouth and Cousins Island
* Large swaths of lower Harpswell Neck
* Bailey Island and much of Orrs Island
* (ironically) most of Quahog Bay, Hen Cove, & Ridley Cove, Harpswell
* Chunks of West Bath & Phippsburg
* Sheepscot River in Wiscasset, Westport Island, and Edgecomb
* Sections of Arrowsic, Georgetown, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Damariscotta, Newcastle
* Johns Bay & Pemaquid Neck, Bristol & South Bristol
* All of Monhegan Island
* Pieces of the St George River in and around Cushing
* Various sections of St George and Muscongus Bay
* Owls Head, Rockland Harbor, Rockport
* Belfast Bay
* Searsport, Stockton, Penobscot River
* Matinicus, parts of Vinalhaven & North Haven
* Bucks Harbor & Upper Blue Hill Harbor
* Ellsworth & Upper Union River Bay
* Various parts of Mt. Desert Island
* Parts of Winter Harbor & Gouldsboro
* Parts of Jonesboro, Jonesport, Machias, & Machiasport
* Most of Lubec & Eastport
Not included in my list above are dozens of small coves, inlets, and streams in towns and communities all up & down Maine’s coast. In addition, huge swaths of shoreline (such as all of the Kennebec River for one) are conditionally closed whenever there’s heavy rainfall.
Moreover, anywhere there’s a lobster pound all nearby shellfishing has been banned too. Because of pollution from the lobstering.
Some of these bans are now decades old. Year after year after year, on it goes.
Most anywhere humans have come together in Maine to live as a community, our sewage & agricultural runoff & industrial by-products & lawn pesticides seep poison into our lands. We believe that we have an inherent right to our land. That what we do on our property is our own business and doesn’t affect the wider world. We couldn’t be more wrong.