The Maine Department of Marine Resources hosted visitors from the Chinese Oceanic Administration last week. From left, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. J.G. Pierre Spence, DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher, NOAA Supervisory Enforcement Officer Eric Provencher, U.S. Coast Guard Commander Jamie Frederick, Maine Marine Patrol Col. Jon Cornish, Danhong Chen of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, Jilu Wu of the China Institute for Marine Affairs and Antao Wang of the Department of International Cooperation. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DMR

Fisheries officials host Chinese delegation

AUGUSTA — Maine fisheries regulators and enforcement officers got a chance to compare notes with some of their counterparts from the People’s Republic of China last week under a State Department exchange program.

The International Visitor Leadership Program hosts leaders in public and private sector fields interested in learning about American culture and business. The program in this state is led by Maureen Hurley of the World Affairs Council of Maine.

Col. Jon Cornish of the Maine Marine Patrol said the program brings participants to DMR and Marine Patrol headquarters nearly every year. “It’s a good opportunity for us,” he said.

Last year, a group from Russia was interested in fisheries management systems in the United States and Maine.

This year’s conversation was more focused on enforcement of fishing laws and regulations. Representatives from the Coast Guard, NOAA Fisheries and Marine Patrol explained their separate jurisdictions and also how they work together.

Each maritime state has a joint enforcement agreement with NOAA through the National Marine Fisheries Service, Cornish said. Each state has different fisheries needs and state-level enforcement capabilities.

Because fisheries loom so large in Maine, the state enforcement agency has more officers than many others, he said. “All our officers are federally deputized. NOAA reimburses our officers for doing federal enforcement work. It’s a big part of our budget.”

Maine and U.S. officials touched on community relations, search and rescue, and public health aspects of their work. “We also got into the important relationships between enforcement and science and how they go hand in hand,” Cornish said.

Conversing through an interpreter took some getting used to, he said, “but once we got going, I think it worked really well. It was a very good interaction.”

Danhong Chen of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration asked about the Coast Guard’s icebreaking activities. The whole group was curious about the distinction between the two civilian enforcement agencies, the DMR and the NOAA, and the Coast Guard as the only military component.

They made a short presentation about how fisheries work in China and what types of enforcement they do, including recent changes, Cornish said. “They have a large overall body that oversees everything.”

The group also planned to visit the Arctic museum at Bowdoin College and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Cornish said.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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