The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently released the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the four lower Kennebec dams.

The financial benefits of the dams are obvious for Brookfield, the mills, and businesses that rely on hydropower. However, FERC fails to address the economics of restored river fisheries to Maine’s businesses and people.

To this end, FERC must address all sea-run fish species in its economic analysis, not just Atlantic salmon.

River herring are important baitfish for our lobster fisheries. Traditionally bait was plentiful and free for all. Expanding baitfish numbers would add stability to a fishery undergoing challenges.

American eel elvers are a multimillion-dollar business subject to limited licensing and policing. Passage for eels to move upstream to mature and then downstream out to sea to spawn will allow their numbers to flourish. The economics of a greatly expanded elver harvest are unimaginable.

Maine guides, sporting camp owners, rural town centers, and families just being able to feed themselves on river-caught fish — the financials are vast and these monies must be accounted for when fish passage is insufficient.


An improved EIS must include all sea-run species, smaller 3/4-inch screens on turbines, and improved fish-lift technology; current fish lifts have proven to be inadequate in other rivers including the Kennebec itself.

The Kennebec is vast and expansive and is capable of producing enough resources for all uses. Scientifically proven sea-run fish passage through all four lower dams is of vital economic importance, granting all Mainers the ability to access the river’s traditional bounty.

Patricia Barber


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