Maine's new top fisheries official is vowing to grow the economic value of the state's oldest industry, commercial fishing, and the coastal communities that rely on the ocean.
The value of the state's seafood harvest ranges from $350 million to $450 million each year and contributes three or four times that much in economic activity to Maine.
"If the fishing industry goes away, our coast looks totally different," Patrick Keliher, who was sworn in Jan. 26 as the Department of Marine Resources commissioner, said in an interview in his office in Hallowell. "Our state can't afford to lose this industry. We are directly linked to coastal tourism. People come to the small coastal villages to see lobster boats tied up, to see them going in and out, to see the lobster traps, to see draggers come back in with sea gulls chasing them as they prepare to unload fish.”