Ocean Commission Appointees

Earlier this afternoon, I filed a story about Maine forming a commission to examine about increasing ocean acidification in the Gulf of Maine. The story, written for print, describes the how and why of the commission’s formation.

This blog post is about the who.

The law that created the commission spells out how people are appointed to the 16-member panel. Patrick Keliher, commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources, gets to appoint eight people from outside state government plus someone from DMR. The rest are appointed by other state officials.

According to a press release issued by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay, the eight people appointed by Keliher include (in alphabetical order):

Jon Lewis, aquaculture coordinator for DMR, has been appointed to the commission as Keliher’s designee.

Selected by Patricia Aho, head of Maine Department of Environmental Protection, to represent that department on the commission is Susanne Miller, director of DEP’s Eastern Maine Regional Office. Miller also is a member of the state’s green crab task force.

Walter Whitcomb, commissioner of Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, also gets to appoint an ACF official to the commission but has yet to do so, ACF spokesman John Bott said Thursday.

Other members of the commission are expected to include five members of the Legislature – two members of the Senate and three members from the House. Justin Alfond, President of the Senate, and Mark Eves, Speaker of the House, get to make these appointments.

Information about who will fill these positions on the commission was unavailable Thursday, but I’ll be very surprised if Mick Devin is not one of them. Devin, a House Democrat, sponsored the bill that led to the creation of the commission and happens to be a marine biologist who works at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center in South Bristol (Walpole).

The ratio of stakeholder representation of the commission was spelled out in the law that created it. On Wednesday, DMR sent me this statement from Commissioner Keliher about his support of the commission’s creation and his appointments to the panel:

“[DMR] supported the legislation that created the Ocean Acidification Commission because we are committed to gaining a better understanding of the likely impact of ocean acidification on our important commercial and recreational fisheries and aquaculture industry. The appointees I’ve selected include representatives of environmental and community groups, fishermen, aquaculturists, and scientists with specific expertise in ocean acidification. These appointees provide an important balance of expertise and experience to the Commission as it works to address this critically important issue.”

When and where the commission will first meet has not yet been determined. According to the law, the commission must meet at least four times and then submit a report of its findings to the Legislature’s marine resources committee “no later than Dec. 5, 2014.”

Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.