STOCKTON SPRINGS — Greg Perkins thinks of the thousands of pounds of lobsters and crabs that he’s caught in the Penobscot River over the past 10 years and worries about his family and the consumers he might have unknowingly poisoned with mercury.
“My first thought was, ‘Were those lobsters contaminated?’ ” Perkins said Wednesday, a day after the Maine Department of Marine Resources announced that it will close the mouth of the river to lobstering and crabbing because of mercury contamination. “Was I possibly poisoning my family and the public for 10 years? It’s impossible to think about.”
Perkins said he knew that environmental groups and the state had been doing studies for years, but he didn’t hear until last month that the tests showed unsafe mercury levels in lobsters and crabs.
“It sucks for us, but I don’t want to kill people either,” said Perkins, who fishes the maximum of 800 traps out of Stockton Springs, in the 7-square-mile area that will be closed for at least two years starting Saturday.
A total of about 270 licensed commercial and recreational harvesters work in the area and are potentially affected by the closure, according to the Department of Marine Resources.