This is in response to an Associated Press article in the Sun Journal on Nov. 4, “Elver fishermen target of welfare probe”

It’s a shame that the article regarding possible welfare fraud by elver fishermen could give people the idea that the majority of them are welfare recipients and don’t file their earnings. Apparently, there are some who were or still are on welfare, or the investigation wouldn’t have been launched in the first place. The general impression of the article leads one to believe there are a lot of them.

If I were Bruce Steeves, whose photo appears in the article, I would be upset to think that people might view me as one of those on welfare. I don’t personally know any elver fishermen, other than Bruce Steeves. He is a hard-working individual, with a family, who derives his sole income from being self-employed as a lobsterman, commercial bait dealer and elver fisherman.

There are individuals in all types of employment who fail to file money earned, in an attempt to circumvent the system and possibly an elver fisherman is among them. Hopefully, the large majority of honest fishermen won’t be stereotyped as dishonest and on welfare.

The state should focus more effort in imposing stricter penalties for those caught fishing for elvers without a license. The current fines are a joke, with fines at a mere percentage of the amount of money made illegally.

Robert Tiner, Poland Spring


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