ME Department of Marine Resources Sea-Run Fish Regulations
The Maine chapter of Native Fish Coalition (NFC) has been working with Downeast Salmon Federation, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Sea-Run Brook Trout Coalition, and Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to address the omission of native brook trout from an important web content and widely distributed print media regarding sea-run gamefish.
When we started the project the document in question had nonnative brown trout listed and pictured front-and-center, but no reference to or picture of native brook trout.
As is often the case, when we peeled back the onion we realized there were other issues that need to be looked into as well. Specifically, while we wanted to de-emphasize nonnative brown trout and emphasize native brook trout, they were both part of an aggregate limit on brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and landlocked salmon.
This meant that while brook trout could be added and the nonnative brown trout picture replaced with a native brook trout picture, brown trout (and nonnative rainbow trout as well) would need to remain part of the document.
It is important to note that while once numbered in the twenties, coastal rivers and streams being active managed for brown trout are now down to single digits. This is partly due to the federally endangered status of Atlantic salmon, lack of demand for sea-run brown trout and the fact that most of these fisheries were supported through stocking.
While there are other issues that came up during this project that NFC will be looking at, we consider this one closed, and the best outcome we could have hoped for considering the options on the table and the issues at hand.
While small in regard to its direct impact on the resource, this is an important symbolic victory for our native fish and sea-run brook trout in particular. As the most read sea-run fish document on the DMR website, and a document that is distributed at sporting shows, this puts Maine's native "salters" on the radar screen for what is arguably the first time.
Thanks to all the partners for their support and hard work. And special thanks to Maine Department of Marine Resources for making this happen.