Frenchman Bay group works toward Preservation



A clammer digs into one of the many mudflats that are part of the Frenchman Bay Watershed. The clamming along the mudflats in certain areas is currently closed due to pollutants. High bacteria counts may be originating in malfunctioning septic systems or from animal waste.

BAR HARBOR — The Frenchman Bay Partners (formerly known as the Frenchman Bay Stakeholders) is a communitywide collective of area conservationists, commercial fishermen, scientists and business owners invested in the health and viability of Frenchman Bay.

Most recently, the partners identified five elements of the Frenchman Bay ecosystem that need most immediate attention: mudflats, eelgrass, diadromous fish (fish that migrate between freshwater and saltwater), elvers, and the bottom habitat which includes lobster, cucumber, urchin, scallop, shrimp, mussels and groundfish.

These conclusions have come from meetings and conservation discussions held by the group over the course of the year, stemming from FBS’ first meeting on Nov. 10, 2010.

“What we’ve started to do is identify those habitats and species that we feel are the ones that perhaps are the most threatened,” said Dr. Jane Disney, a member of the group and director of Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory’s Community Environmental Health Laboratory.

One of the main goals of FBS is to identify issues before they become a problem.

“We’re trying to get ahead of that curve for sure,” said Dr. Disney. “I don’t think anyone’s seeing a crisis. But if you ask any individual clammers, they’ll tell you things aren’t the same. They’re concerned. Certain populations have been so depleted. When I asked a fisherman whether or not it was too soon to start a Frenchman Bay Fishermen’s council, he said, ‘Too soon? It’s 20 years too late.’”

For more maritime news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

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