Panel votes against fishing pact with tribes

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The tension increases between the state and Native American tribes, after a legislative committee voted against a bill that called for shared management of commercial fish species.

The Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources voted 8-2 against a proposed bill that would allow state regulators to enter into a "memorandum of agreement" about marine resources with four tribes.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Matthew Dana, said he wants the four tribes to have input on how they manage the state's eel and elver fishery. The commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources testified against the proposed bill, saying the state can already enter into agreements now with the four tribes and it would be redundant to put it into law.

This is just the latest of the on-going battle between the state and the Passamaquoddy tribe. Last week, the DMR implemented an emergency rule, which prevents tribal members fishing for sustenance from using fyke nets to catch elvers, but many Passamaquoddy tribal members said they were going to continue using the fyke nets to fish.

Conversations continue between DMR and the Passamaquoddy tribe about the utilization of some fyke nets.

"There's still some disagreements and still some conversations going on to resolve them. I have a commitment both from the chiefs at Township and Pleasant Point to continue conversations, as well as any of the other tribes. I have an open door policy here at the department and i'm willing to talk about any issues that they may have or need to resolve," commissioner Patrick Keliher said.

Keliher said the tribe agreed to show the state their landing reports, to ensure they don't go over the quota. Keliher added that communication between the two entities is key, so they can reach a common ground.

"We're going to continue to talk and the fishery ends on the 31st and we're hoping that we can continue good-faith negotiations until that time and then look for resolutions that may need to be addressed at the legislature for next year," said Keliher.

NEWS CENTER tried reaching out to Representative Dana, but he did not return any phone calls.


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