Alewives bill lacks governor's signature

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that opens the entire St. Croix watershed to sea-run alewives for the first time in nearly three decades went into law Tuesday without the signature of Gov. Paul LePage.

The bill, LD 72, An Act to Open the St. Croix River to River Herring, breezed through the House and Senate and was sent to LePage’s desk on April 10. Under Maine law, the governor has 10 days, excluding Sundays, to sign or veto bills or they become law automatically.

Rep. Madonna Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, who sponsored the bill, said it came about because Native Americans, sportsmen and others wanted to let alewives swim their natural course.

“This is a survival issue,” she said.

The bill became law with only about a week to spare before its contents become relevant. It requires state officials to remove barriers in fishways at Grand Falls Dam in Washington County by May 1 in order to allow alewifes to migrate upriver. It would be the first time since 1995 that the fish would have full access to the St. Croix River watershed.

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