To the editor:
I am somewhat distressed by the accusations made by Bob Peacock in Working Waterfront regarding vessel movement in Cobscook Bay (see article). I am even more distressed by Bob Gustafson’s or Working Waterfront’s failure to contact me regarding the accuracy of these statements. I am not unfamiliar with the background and nature of Captain Peacock’s accusations. While I appreciate Captain Peacock’s concern regarding ISA, we have been monitoring vessel operations, conducting biosecurity audits and placing restrictions on aquaculture vessel movement for over 2 years. Both I and DMR were well aware of the “CDC article” and the operation of vessels before receiving the photographs and article mentioned by Captain Peacock. In fact I had traveled on the boat in question to monitor and audit vessel biosecurity and operations well previous to receiving Capt. Peacock’s information.
What I did say to Capt. Peacock in our conversation was that the construction, design and operation of the boats in question were quite different from the Scottish vessels mentioned in the article. The boats in the photographs referred to by Captain Peacock are new vessels designed and constructed specifically to deal with the biosecurity issues associated with ISA. The vessel owners expended considerable time, effort and investment in research and consultation with veterinarians and fish health experts to insure that the design, construction and operation of the vessel achieved the highest standards of biosecurity. In addition, both vessels are subjected to random, monthly audits scrutinizing all aspects of the vessel’s operation to minimize the risk of ISA transmission. The vessel’s owner has cooperated fully in independent third party inspections of vessel operations and has allowed DMR to monitor and examine all aspects of their operation.
The changes in vessel regulations are modifications of existing regulations resulting from both ongoing epidemiological research and lengthy negotiations among federal, state and provincial officials. The efforts surrounding ISA control are extremely technical, complicated, labor intensive and difficult for all parties involved. Vessel owners and operators have a considerable stake in the control of ISA on both sides of the border. Their livelihood and future is also dependent on the survival and sustainability of the salmon industry. They have invested their own money, time and effort to meet the challenges facing this industry. And like I, they have had many stressful days and sleepless nights adjusting to new demands and unwarranted statements.
Again, do me the courtesy of contacting me before publishing accusations concerning my statements. I can at the very least correct the spelling of my name.
Maine Department of Marine Resources