Tuesday, June 26, 2007

trashing the coast

This is Sullivan Harbor at nearly low tide. The harbor was not recognized as a working harbor until less than twenty years ago. Unitl then, the water was only broken by a few private moorings and lobster pots. Then old zoning regulations were uncovered and the town fathers decided to make it a working harbor. Since then, we've seen an interesting run of boats anchor here. This increase in activity has coincided with a general increase in fishing and dragging in Frenchman's Bay.

Generally, coastal laws prohibit dragging, trapping or fishing in working harbors. These laws are also fairly specific about how and where fishing can be done. Unfortunately, Mainers have a stubbornly libertarian streak and there is very little direct enforcement of some regulations in rural areas. To that end, boats work to fulfill demand for scallops, mussels, crabs, and lobsters and various kinds of fish without much regard for the law.

To wit, the picture. Below what we have always referred to as the Big Rock is a tidal mussel flat. This means that it is covered by eleven feet of water at high tide and bare at low tide. Twenty years ago and beyond, it was a pure run of mussels. Now it is gutted and pockmarked by illegal dragging.

This is an object lesson in my frustration with contemporary Green vogue. Global warming gets a lot of attention, but the whole question of sustainability and other damage to our natural resources seems to get lost in the noise about organic products. The real discussion of how to deal with our environment ends up obscured in an absurd debate between corporate interests, societal interests, and the view that "real" environmentalism is somehow a freakish, patchouli-soaked abomination.