April 02, 2015
NAPLES, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Senate Climate Action Task Force, joined with representatives from conservation and outdoor recreation groups for a forum at the Naples Town Hall to highlight the impact of climate change on ice fishing in Maine.
“From lobstermen in the Gulf of Maine to fishermen here at Sebago Lake, people throughout Maine recognize that climate change is real and that it’s taking a serious toll on our environment and on industries critical to our economy,” Senator King said. “Right here in Naples, we’ve seen how the seasons are changing and the weather is fluctuating, throwing into question the predictability of winter recreational activities and economic drivers like ice fishing. But if one thing’s clear, it’s that we are all in the fight against climate change together – and by coming together, as we did today, we can develop strategies to confront climate change and take concrete steps toward reducing its impact in the future.”
Last December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that 2014 was the warmest year on record, and according to a report released last month by the University of Maine, average annual temperatures in Maine have increased by three degrees over the past century, resulting in changes to the length and character of the seasons that directly impact Maine’s winter recreational activities like ice-fishing.
For example, over the past several decades, Maine’s ice-out date – the date at which ice thaws and begins to break – has retreated several weeks, a trend that is likely to continue as global temperatures increase, cutting short the ice-fishing season and threatening the longevity of other winter recreational activities. Furthermore, increased atmospheric temperatures can also result in higher lake water temperatures, which, along with more storms and precipitation, can detrimentally alter the ecological balance central to the long-term sustainability of fish populations.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, freshwater recreational fishing generations more than $250 million per year in Maine and contributes approximately $26 billion to the national economy.
As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Climate Action Task Force, Senator King has been raising the profile of climate change’s impacts in Maine – from increasing ocean acidification to driving the lobster population northward – and working to promote energy policies in the Senate that reduce our carbon footprint and promote a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly future.
Organizations cosponsoring the event include Trout Unlimited, Maine Rivers, Maine Lakes Society, the Sebago Lake Anglers Association, Lakes Environmental Association, and Loon Echo Land Trust. Also participating in the forum were David Hart, Professor of Biology at the George Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine; David Miller, President of the Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited; Connie Cross, Sportswoman and Lakes Region community leader; and Taryn Hallweaver, Director of Environment Maine.