MLA recognizes two at Fishermen’s Forum

First published in Landings, April, 2015.

Outstanding Service Award

From left to right, Patrice McCarron, MLA executive director, Outstanding Service award recipient Sarah Cotnoir, and MLA president David Cousens. Photo courtesy of Mike Young and Mark Haskell Photography.

From left to right, Patrice McCarron, MLA executive director, Outstanding Service award recipient Sarah Cotnoir, and MLA president David Cousens. Photo courtesy of Mike Young and Mark Haskell Photography.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) presented its Outstanding Service Award to Department of Marine Resources (DMR) resource management coordinator Sarah Cotnoir on March 8. The MLA’s Outstanding Service Award is a way to recognize people within the state’s lobster industry who go above and beyond the call of duty.

“Sarah has the really tough job, of working with lobstermen from all across the state. She often has to take the brunt of being the bearer of news of change and, as we all know, lobstermen do not usually respond well to change,” said MLA president David Cousens.

Cotnoir, 48, began work in the department in 2000 in an administrative post. She soon was promoted to serve as DMR’s liaison with the seven lobster zone councils. The lobster zone councils have authority to set the number of traps in their zone and the entry/exit ratio for new entrants. Each zone sends one representative to sit on the state Lobster Advisory Council. Cotnoir’s role is to ensure that the zone council members are up to date on all state, regional and federal issues. As important, she is also responsible for conveying the local concerns of council members to DMR officials.

“The sheer geography of the Maine coast demands that she put in many long hours. Sarah does this with patience and tremendous competency,” Cousens continued. “And more often than not, with a bright smile.”

“The scope of Sarah’s responsibilities is daunting. She organizes zone council meetings, runs the zone elections in the fall, coordinates proposed changes to lobster regulations, and attends all the meetings,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher, who attended the presentation. “It’s a stressful job and she handles it with great professionalism.”

Cotnoir, who lives with her husband in Chelsea, expressed “utter shock” at the award. “This is my job and it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” she said. “I think it’s really important that the issues and concerns of lobstermen be heard and addressed.”

Officer of the Year Award

From left to right, DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher, Patrice McCarron, Officer of the Year award recipient Owen Reed, and David Cousens. Photo courtesy of Mike Young and Mark Haskell Photography.

From left to right, DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher, Patrice McCarron, Officer of the Year award recipient Owen Reed, and David Cousens. Photo courtesy of Mike Young and Mark Haskell Photography.

DMR Marine Patrol Officer Owen Reed received the Officer of the Year award from the MLA at the Forum banquet as well. “He’s young and he’s sharp and we are proud to present this award to Owen Reed,” said MLA president David Cousens at the event.

“Owen has the integrity to know right from wrong, the diplomacy to deal with any given situation appropriately, and the compassion to apply the appropriate level of law enforcement needed to correct any deficiencies. These qualities are very much appreciated by both the department and the industry that he serves,” said Marine Patrol Chief Jon Cornish.

Reed, 24, is a 2010 graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy. He worked as assistant harbormaster in Castine while studying for his associate’s degree in small vessel operation at the Academy. He also worked as a firefighter and EMT in Bangor and Castine and as an EMT for the Peninsula Ambulance Corps in Blue Hill and the Bagaduce Ambulance Corps.

After joining the Bureau in 2012, Reed was stationed in the mid-coast area, then was transferred to the Deer Isle region. Hancock County has seen a marked increase in lobster landings during the past four years; Stonington has been the top port in the state by value for six years running.

With so many lobsters coming over the rail, Reed and his fellow officers’ work load increased. As did the nature of marine resource violations. “In my opinion, one of Owen’s best qualities is his ability to distinguish between an intentional violator and someone who has made a mistake. He understands the benefits of not only addressing a violation but building a trust and rapport with local harvesters. This gained trust has allowed Owen to build some great marine resource cases,” Cornish added.

In 2013 Reed was responsible for prosecution of a dozen violations of the state’s lobster conservation laws, including license violations, gear violations, and five prosecutions for illegal lobsters. In 2014, Officers Reed and Rustin Ames helped build the case against Stonington lobsterman Theodore Gray, who was successfully convicted of molesting lobster equipment, possession of 269 undersized lobsters and possession of 123 V-notched lobsters.

Although young, Reed has won the confidence of Marine Patrol veterans and the respect of fishermen in the Deer Isle region. “He’s an outstanding individual, both in his job and in his personal life,” said Section V Sergeant Troy Dow. “Owen is always thinking of new ways of accomplishing difficult tasks. He is very diligent. He doesn’t stop until he gets his guy.”