TRENTON — Representatives of the regional League of Towns, meeting here on Tuesday, declined to endorse Acadia National Park’s bid to be included in the National System of Marine Protected Areas.
Len Bobinchock, the park’s deputy superintendent, said inclusion would benefit Acadia by “bringing us greater recognition as a coastal park, better communication with our federal and state partners and potentially the opportunity to obtain grant funds that may not otherwise be available.”
The Marine Protected Area (MPA) would not extend beyond park property, which ends at the low tide mark. But elected officials and chief administrators from several League towns expressed concern that the MPA designation would lead to further federal regulation of fishing in local waters.
Steve Katona, chairman of the Acadia Advisory Commission, said in an interview on Tuesday that, while the designation “wouldn’t affect commercial fishermen one molecule,” he intends to recommend that the commission not endorse the park’s MPA application when it meets this Friday, Feb. 19.
The Swans Island’s selectmen this week sent a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which created the Marine Protected Areas system, expressing their opposition to Acadia’s inclusion.
Most of the League of Towns representatives agreed with Bar Harbor Town Manager Dana Reed, who said he didn’t have a good enough understanding of the Marine Protected Areas system to take a position.
On Monday, Feb. 22, is the deadline for interested parties to submit comments to NOAA on Acadia’s application.
Mr. Katona said he intends to urge the Acadia Advisory Commission to recommend that park officials withdraw their application for MPA designation.
For more maritime news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.