As we throttle up into 2023, I am optimistic about the year ahead. A few points of good news, for instance, the recent breather to the Right Whale situation, an increase in Menhaden quota, and the return of the Fishermen’s Forum, are all welcome course corrections to our heading the last couple years.
Personally, I find myself notching nine months on the washrail (office desk) as Marine Patrol Colonel since taking the helm from retired Colonel Jay Carroll last May. Having spent my years in the field working the Penobscot Bay region of the State, I look forward to meeting more of you from the east and west.
Patrol continues to make positive strides forward with officer recruitment and retention. The Bureau of Marine Patrol maintains 49 sworn officer positions. There are currently four vacancies, the fewest since April of 2019. MPO Alison Gauvin is our most recent Criminal Justice Academy graduate and is busy working her patrol in the Lubec area; MPO Abrahm Malloy is currently attending the Academy and is scheduled to return to the field in June; and MPO Ben Wiant is our newest officer currently field training in the Jonesport area. Please make a point to connect with these new officers, or the current officer in your area, if you don’t already know them.
As so many things continue to change, Marine Patrol’s commitment to Maine’s marine resources and commercial fishing industry remains steadfast.
In addition to our new MPOs there have been a few other recent changes. Colin MacDonald was promoted to Captain in August 2022 and is now assigned to Headquarters in Augusta. Jeffrey Turcotte was promoted to Sergeant in September 2022. Sgt. Turcotte is currently supervising Patrol activities in Section 5 from MDI to Milbridge. In November 2022, the Section 6 Sergeant, Russel Wright, retired from the Bureau after over 20 years of service. Sgt. Mark Murry has since taken supervisory duties in Section 6 from Harrington to Calais.
The Bureau recently restructured some patrol, section, and division lines in response to changes in recreational and commercial fishing activity levels, officer duty schedule challenges, and to otherwise best position the agency for the foreseeable future. The take-away from this for the average harvester or dealer, specifically if you are east of Rockland, is that the officer assigned to your area may have changed. You can refer to the contact list on the Marine Patrol portion of the DMR website for current assignments at maine.gov/dmr/rules-enforcement/marine-patrol/contact.
The agency continues to leverage funding opportunities to improve our patrol vessel fleet by replacing aged equipment. Several 23’ aluminum Silver Ship outboard patrol boats have been commissioned in the last two years to replace several 20+ year old Boston Whalers. The 42’ P/V Endeavor was launched in July 2021 and assigned to Boothbay and a second 42’ Calvin Beal is currently in the works with an expected delivery in 2024.
The Bureau is also finalizing plans for a larger patrol boat capable of conducting inspection of large offshore gear configurations. Each of these new vessels replace an existing platform and support Patrol’s ability to complete our duties safely and efficiently.
As so many things continue to change, Marine Patrol’s commitment to Maine’s marine resources and commercial fishing industry remains steadfast. The success of your Marine Patrol has historically relied upon the relationship between an individual officer and the community he or she serves; this fact has not changed. Please utilize Patrol as a resource when you have a fishery question or a concern. Even when it is your turn to get boarded, know that MPOs are working diligently for the betterment of the entire industry.
Best wishes for a safe and prosperous 2023!