At the Nobleboro selectmen’s meeting on Wednesday, May 6, selectmen decided to close the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder to the public this year. The state’s COVID-19 regulations would require time and resources that would be difficult to manage at the fish ladder.
“We would need to manage access, take temperatures, and enforce social distancing and it’s just too much,” said Sue Isabel, town clerk.
Deb Wilson and Mark Becker attended the selectmen’s meeting to propose a scheme to keep the fish ladder open. They suggested one-way traffic and lots of signage so that people could visit. They also suggested closing the fish ladder to the public if people were found not to be following the rules. The proposal was rejected because it would require town representatives to monitor the property at all times and there are not enough people to do that.
The Damariscotta Mills fish ladder restoration group is seeking an underwater webcam so that people can enjoy the annual alewife run from the comfort of their homes. Anyone wishing to donate or support this endeavor is invited to contact Deb Wilson at 380-6997.
Despite the closure of public access, harvesting alewives for lobster bait will still go on this year. The harvest crew will work alone at the dippers and the hopper. Lobstermen will either remain in vehicles while waiting their turn for bait or will stay at a 6-foot distance from others outside of the harvest area. Additional social distancing measures will be established once the harvest is set to begin. A new conveyor was installed earlier this spring so the town expects a smooth harvest operation.