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Maine Shellfish Advisory Council Meeting Minutes, April 28, 2009

Attendance

The Department of Marine Resources Shellfish Advisory Council met April 28, 2009, at 1:00 PM in Hallowell, with the following members present: Fiona De Koning, Virginia Olsen, Lori Howell, Neil Pollis, Joe Porada, Dan Devereaux, Dick Lemont, John Fancy, Matt Craig, and Abden Simmons. Commissioner George Lapointe, Linda Mercer, Amy Fitzpatrick, Denis-Marc Nault, and Bruce Chamberlain were present from the Department of Marine Resources. Brian Kavanah attended from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Approval of Minutes

Minutes from the December 19, 2008 meeting were reviewed and approved. (L. Howell moved and R. Lemont seconded)

Maine DEP & DMR 2009 Work Plan (Brian Kavanah, Amy Fitzpatrick)

DMR and DEP staff met to develop a summer work plan for shoreline survey work. DMR needs to determine how many properties and how many people we will need and how long we think it will take and get that back to DEP. The following must be done or areas will close (the Medomak River and Friendship need to be completed by 2010):
• Scarborough River – Special study area – PRIORITY – Amy, Lorraine, Anna and DEP assist requested
• Spurwink River, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth – PRIORITY – DEP assist requested, Amy, Lorraine, Phil Garwood
• Waldoboro, Medomak River – Anna and Amy; DEP for a portion that we cannot find the problem
• Friendship – Anna, Amy, Fran, DEP
• Vinalhaven – DEP and DMR

L. Howell is interested in the Piscataqua River. Sampling stopped over 5 years ago and if we had water samples, we would know if more work is worth doing. C. Davis asked if there is a window for doing surveys? A. Fitzpatrick replied that they could not be done in winter. G. Olsen asked if there are any more training classes for people in these areas. A. Fitzpatrick responded that classes were offered last year in Casco Bay and Boothbay Harbor, but there are no plans for training this year due to cost and other priorities for the field season. B. Kavanah, Director of Water Quality management for DEP said that DEP is happy to assist. There are five fulltime and one seasonal staff from the Augusta and Bangor offices who will be assisting with shoreline survey work.

Status of Growing Area Program Staffing & LD1399

G. Lapointe reviewed LD1399 which proposes funding for three new positions from surcharges proposed for OBDs and CSOs including a $2 surcharge on residential municipal treatment plant customers. J. Fancy has heard opposition from some who support the positions but feel that those who have already connected to treatment plants have done their part to get waste out of the water and that those with septic tanks haven’t done anything. Also, they would be opposed to future charges that might go for unrelated services. C. Davis asked if there was any discussion about vessel discharges. B. Kavanah reported that some marinas have pumpout stations and there is one No Discharge area in Casco Bay. Six others are being worked on and priority harbors have been identified.

Pilot Project Subcommittee Report (G. Olsen, L. Howell, D. Devereaux, F. De Koning, J. Porada)

Four proposals were received: Georges River-Cushing/Upper St. George River; Kennebunkport/near Station WE10; Phippsburg/New Meadows R.; and Eliot/Piscataqua R. The subcommittee recommended Phippsburg over St. George R. because some work already done in Phippsburg and DMR already has it on their work list. They felt there would be a good chance of success with groundwork already completed. They realized that the St. George R. is a large harvest area with vast resource, and would encourage them to come back in the future. Phippsburg is much less work for DMR. It is conditionally approved based on a season (closure during summer). N. Pollis stated that his area was not selected last time because it was a seasonal closure. R. Lemont stated that half of license sales for Phippsburg come from the proposed study area. M. Craig asked if the subcommittee vote was unanimous. It was not and some favored the St. George R. A motion was made to approve the Phippsburg pilot project (L. Howell motioned and G. Olsen seconded). The motion failed. J. Porada made a motion, seconded by J. Fancy to approve the St. George pilot project which passed. Although DMR has done a lot of work in this area, this will be a much larger and lengthier project. The project will require water and shellfish studies after rainfalls to define a conditional area based on rainfall.

Update of Scarborough Pilot Project

DMR met with D. Corbeau of the Town of Scarborough in early December. The MOU was developed and approved by the AAG and mailed to D. Corbeau in March; it has not been returned to DMR to date. DMR staff established locations of new stations and sampling will began in April. The Katahdin Lab certification process is underway. DMR will run samples until lab is certified. L. Howell expressed concern about DMR taking on additional work of running samples. A, Fitzpatrick noted that running a few more samples is not the problem, but the data analysis and report writing is a bottleneck. A. Simmons would like to see Aqua Maine Laboratory certified as soon as possible.

Farmer Market/Direct Sales by Harvesters (Joe Porada)

J. Porada explained his interest in selling shellfish as a harvester at farmers markets. His understanding from FDA is that this is not an FDA issue and is within the state’s authority. He is not a certified dealer and doesn’t have a facility which would allow him to sell at farmers markets. He stated that he could go to a dealer and for a small charge could get tags. He felt markets are well regulated; they require licenses, vendors must be licensed and have to be juried in, have to pay fees, and can be kicked out if not abiding by rules. He felt that there is traceability and safeguards for a harvester or aquaculturist to sell at farmers markets. B. Chamberlain said that the Model Ordinance only details with interstate shipping but must ensure that shellfish that does get into interstate traffic is safe (traceability, sanitation, etc.). With regard to buying tags, the intent is to chill down product and purchase it as a retail seafood dealer. It becomes a record by the dealer and is accounted for and traceable. He stated that Vibrios are a potential problem and big concern. Vibrios are a handling issue. A harvester selling shellfish would have to have a mechanism to chill down shellfish just as do buyers trucks that are required to have cooling at all times, time/temperature recorders, etc. J. Porada asked how selling at farmers markets is different from home sales that are allowed. B. Chamberlain said that electricity and refrigeration is required for home sales even though they don’t get inspected. The issue of length of time harvesters have to get product to market was raised (16 hours) and the lack of requirements for refrigeration except for buyers trucks. There was discussion about the need to look at this issue. L. Howell stated that the Gulf of Mexico coast is currently negotiated 5 hours between harvest and market. J. Porada asked if having a truck with a cooler run off a generator or a car battery would be allowed? B. Chamberlain said that this will require a change in statute and regulations and it could not be done for this year. G. Lapointe stated that this needs to work for the entire state and expressed concern about staff workloads. We need to stabilize the shellfish program and then move forward.

Maine Seafood Alliance Rain Gauge Project

G. Olsen reported that the MSA is in process of purchasing six new rain gauges and is working with DMR on locations that need them. They are most needed in eastern Maine. DMR will provide information on proper gauges to purchase and an MOU that has been developed for towns who wish to maintain a rain gauge.

Old Business

New Business

The first Red Tide closure of the season was implemented April 27 for mussels from Freeport to Phippsburg.

L. Howell reported that the ISSC will be in Manchester, NH in October. This is a great opportunity for people to attend and see how this organization works. There may be 1-3 registration waivers available to hand out (shared w/MA & RI). Potential issues for discussion by the ISSC include : Vibrios, viruses, dilution lines around treatment plants, etc.

Election of Chair

G. Olsen was elected chair to replace F. De Koning who stepped down as chair. (L. Howell moved and J. Porada seconded)

DMR Updates

The 2009 FDA Plant Sanitation review is online. There were no deficiencies noted. However, 50% of the dealers evaluated had problems with record keeping and HACCP/SSOP records which has not improved even though we have implemented a lot of training, documents, cd’s, booklets, etc.

On April 30th, the Public Health Division is co-hosting a meeting to talk about possible collaborative efforts between Soil and Water Conservation District Representatives around coastal water quality issues. Topics will include outlining elements of the sanitary survey process for collaboration, district GIS capabilities and possible grant writing efforts.

The ability to re-pack shucked shellfish is moving forward and should be out for public hearing in June and on the Advisory Council agenda for acceptance in July.

We were evaluated by the EU in March and have not seen a final report yet.

Lorraine Morris started in the vacant Boothbay Harbor MR Specialist I position on April 21, 2009.

Commissioner Lapointe reported that the Budget Forecasting Commission will announce the budget hole this week with directions on how to address to follow.

The Governor’s bill for consolidating the four natural resource agencies (Marine Resources, IF&W, Agriculture, and Conservation) into one Department of Natural Resources will be heard before the State and Local Committee along with a couple other proposals. (One to combine DMR & IFW and another that will move the aquaculture program to Agriculture.

Deputy Commissioner Etnier updated the council further on LD 1399. Appropriations may put language of bill into budget.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:30.