Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 12, 2014
Island students earn passing grade from Marine Resources commissioner
From left, Deer Isle-Stonington High School Marine Trades teacher Tom Duym and Ellsworth High School freshmen Jillian Dow, Jack McKechnie and Hayden Sattler cross Penobscot Bay on a lobster boat gathering data in coastal Maine in May 2014.
On Wednesday, May 28, more than 50 students from coastal high schools presented their preliminary findings on the winter flounder project to Maine Commissioner of Marine Resources Patrick Keliher. The students were joined by two dozen local fishermen, researchers, teachers, and parents at Waterman’s Community Center in North Haven, according to a news release from Deer Isle-Stonington High School.
The presentation was the culminating event of the first year of the Eastern Maine Skippers Program. Last September, Keliher assigned the students “homework,” asking them to investigate the viability of a trap-based, winter flounder fishery and report back to him this spring. “From what I have seen and heard today,” Keliher told the students, “you’ve all passed with flying colors.”
Students have been fishing the innovative traps and collecting data on what they catch, including by-catch, since May 1. Mount Desert Island High School freshman Nicholas Lewis was the first student to catch a flounder in the traps. Lewis said, “finally, a project has come along where we can learn more about fishing while getting much more knowledge about licensing, regulations, reports, writing proposals, and much more.”
While the students presented their preliminary findings at the event, students plan to continue experimenting with the winter flounder traps through the summer and into next fall.
“Learning about winter flounder was definitely useful,” said Deer Isle-Stonington High School freshman Jacob McGuire. “I learned that it is a lot of work to start a supplemental fishery. You have to design the traps, figure out where to set them, and get a special license.”