100-plus volunteers clean up Criehaven and Ellwell islands followed by a lobster bake!

More than 4,000 pounds of trash, broken gear hauled off Maine islands

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:45am

TENANTS HARBOR— Sundays are the only days off for Maine’s lobstermen, but on Sunday, June 10,  a number of them in the Tenants Harbor Fishermans Co-op got right back on their boats to take more than 100 volunteers out to various islands to clean up the trash, debris and broken gear that accumulated on the shoreline.

Luke’s Lobster, a restaurant in Tenants Harbor, joined forces with United By Blue, an outdoor brand focused on ocean conservation based in Philadelphia, to organize the event.

United By Blue’s clean-up crew assembled mini task forces to head out on from Luke’s Lobster Shack on various lobster boats and skiffs to Criehaven and Ellwell Island to haul off the trash. They were  assisted by members of Maine Island Trail Association, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and George's River Land Trust and Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation.

Kelly Offner, United By Blue’s Head of Clean Up, said: “We’ve done other clean ups with the Luke’s Lobster restaurants in New York and Philadelphia, and decided it was time to come up to Maine and do one here. We're both environmentally conscious companies whose missions are inspired by our love for the ocean, so it was a natural fit.

This is the third annual Tenants Harbor Island Clean Up, sponsored by the Tenants Harbor Fisherman's Co-op, and each year, the event focuses on a different island.

Merritt Carey, general manager of Luke’s Lobster and a board member of the Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op said: “We picked Criehaven this year because two of our lobstermen fish that territory. And even though it’s not close by—it’s at least an hour by boat just to get there — we wanted to focus on an offshore island this year.”

The amount of trash bags, broken gear, Styrofoam, plastic junk and debris that came back on the boats was astounding — enough to fill up a 30-foot dumpster.

Plastic and Styrofoam is the worst culprit.

“You see a lot of bleach bottles, plastic juice bottles, and nips,” said Offner. “Eighty percent of the trash in the ocean is coming from land. It’s coming from people leaving trash on a beach, or from floods or from the wind pulling bags and bottles into the ocean.

Asked what people can do to improve this problem, Offner said, “Starting small, we’ve got to find a way to eliminate single-use plastic, such as bottles and take-out containers.”

The event held a fun contest: Who could bring back the strangest piece of debris? Items returned included: a coconut “head,” muskrat skull and a whale tail bone.

To reward everyone for their hard work, Luke’s Lobster provided a giant lobster bake with corn, potatoes, beer from Allagash Brewing Co. Green Bee sodas and cookies.

The lobsters were purchased at the Co-op’s discounted rate, while all of the food and drinks was donated for this event.

“We had more volunteers this year than in the last two years, so we went out and picked up 25 more lobsters,” said Carey.

For more information visit: unitedbyblue.com/tenantsharbor  www.lukeslobster.com/cause and tenantsharborfishermanscoop.com

Kay Stephens can be reached atnews@penbaypilot.com