The Political Grind

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Something fishy

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure on Friday that aims to minimize red tide, a harmful algae bloom that caused 97 percent of Maine’s shellfish beds to close last summer.

The legislation, supported by U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both Democrats, would call for a national strategy and regional action plans to reduce the size and occurrence of red tides, according to a release from Michaud’s office.

The Maine shellfish industry supports about 3,000 harvesters and dealers and brings about $50 million a year to coastal communities, according to a statement from Pingree’s office.

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There were also significant red tide outbreaks in 2005 and 2008.

In other fishing news this week, Sen. Olympia Snowe spoke with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and reiterated her opposition to listing bluefin tuna as an endangered species.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced it intends to support an international proposal that would place the fish on the list, despite the fact that the U.S. bluefin catch has declined from 2000 to 2008 because of stricter management provisions, according to Snowe’s office.

“Supporting policies that will further disadvantage our industry sends a terrible message to fishermen and to the rest of the world that doing the right thing and imposing strict domestic harvest reductions will only beget greater penalties,” Snowe said in a statement.

On the ballot

Candidates seeking to be on primary ballots have until 5 p.m. Monday to turn in a sufficient number of signatures to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office.

Several candidates for governor, including Democrat Rosa Scarcelli and Republicans Steve Abbott, Paul LePage, Peter Mills and Les Otten have turned in their papers.

Jason Levesque, an Auburn businessman running as a Republican to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, also met the signature threshold and submitted his paperwork to the Secretary of State.

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