THUMBS DOWN to the banks that fail to adequately take care of foreclosed properties, an ongoing problem locally, and across the state and country.

Such properties are now getting attention in Augusta, where city councilors, spurred by concerned residents, will form an ad hoc committee to review how the city deals with empty and neglected properties.

Keith Ludden approached the City Council last week to ask it to do something about properties like the one near his Brooklawn Avenue home. A house in his neighborhood has been abandoned since November; its grass has grown tall and the paint is peeling. Ludden correctly believes it is a target for vandalism and other criminal activities, and that it reflects poorly on the other, well-maintained properties in the area.

Most abandoned properties are somewhere in the foreclosure process. They typically are controlled by banks, which do not always keep the properties up to standards and are not always responsive to the concerns of neighbors, or even reachable at all.

Many communities have had trouble dealing with absentee owners who fail to keep up vacant properties.

Bangor, for instance, passed an ordinance last year requiring property owners who leave a building empty for more than 60 days to register with the city. That allows city officials to contact someone if a property falls into disarray.

The committee in Augusta should consider a similar registry, as well as minimum standards for upkeep of vacant properties.

THUMBS UP to reports from fishermen in the Gulf of Maine that hint at a rebound in the decimated cod stock.

Cod, the driver of the North Atlantic fishery for centuries, suffered a population collapse following a record haul in 1991. That year, more than 8 million pounds were caught in Maine. By last year, however, the catch was down to less than 300,000 pounds, a loss in value of more than $6 million.

Fishermen now are reporting that the catch since the 2014 season began May 1 is almost twice what it was at this point last year, despite fewer fishing trips.

There is still plenty of reason for concern. Scientists say the increased haul so far this year doesn’t jibe with their data, which show the cod population at an all-time low.

The higher catches, they say, could be because of “hyper-aggregating,” when a declining species congregates in one area, giving the appearance of higher numbers.

The discrepancy calls for a further look. If the fishermen are right, it is the first bit of good news for the cod fishery in some time.

THUMBS DOWN to findings by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute that show the Gulf of Maine warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans.

The figure, accepted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, foretells the coming changes off the coast of Maine, caused by climate change and other factors. As water temperatures rise, the species everyone is used to seeing will move north, to cooler waters, while the species associated with the Mid-Atlantic will move up to the Gulf of Maine.

That is already happening to some degree, and scientists fear it will have a negative impact on the North Atlantic fishery, valued at more than $1 billion.

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