Seaweed and shellfish

A Jan. 4 BDN editorial touched on the important role seaweeds and seagrasses can play in ameliorating ocean acidification to benefit shell-building organisms, specifically lobster. The editorial highlighted nicely the potential for marine plants to reduce acidification. As part of a research group active in this field, we are writing to clarify an important nuance in how differences between marine plants can shape this process.

All marine plants take up carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. However, there is an important difference between short-term “capture” of carbon dioxide versus long-term “storage.” Seagrasses are rooted in marine sediments, so some of the carbon taken up during photosynthesis is actually buried in those sediments. Through burial, seagrass meadows become natural carbon sinks. Seaweeds, such as kelp and rockweed, however, grow anchored to rocky bottom and have less capacity for long-term carbon storage. By harvesting seaweeds, the captured carbon dioxide is temporarily removed instead of immediately released back into the ocean when the seaweed decays. The power of carbon dioxide capture by seaweeds is timing: It can reduce acidification during key periods of shellfish development.

This distinction drives one of our research questions: Which marine plants can be farmed, sustainably wild-harvested or conserved and restored to help reduce coastal acidification? Preliminary evidence tells us proximity to marine plants can improve shell-building potential for commercially valuable shellfish. With 87 percent of Maine’s commercial fisheries landings by value coming from shell-builders, we think this is a topic worthy of research and applaud the editorial staff for raising this issue.

Susie Arnold

Marine scientist

Island Institute

Nichole Price

Senior research scientist

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

LePage needs to resign

As a former resident of the state of Maine, I catch a lot of flak. Gov. Paul LePage is one reason for this.

Instead of embracing diversity in the state of Maine he attacks it. When he made comments about “ impregnating a young, white girl,” it became racial. When he used terms such as “D-Money,” “Smoothie” and “Shifty” as drug dealers, LePage is referring to black men. The drug epidemic in America is a serious problem, and people who look like LePage are a part of it.

If LePage believes this was a “slip-up,” then he should resign immediately. I can nominate myself because I do not make these “slip-ups” on racially sensitive topics. In the history of this country, there has been one black president, nine U.S. senators and four governors. Is LePage knowledgeable in this field? Does he care?

People such as LePage should not be in office. Remember Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott praising Sen. Strom Thurmond, who ran for president on a segregationist platform?

Rollins Chapman

New York City

Double trash taxation

George Campbell’s Jan 13 OpEd offers seniors and the poor a “modest proposal”: an opportunity to “control their spending” by paying for each trash bag. This would be very funny as satire, but because he supports pay-as-you-throw, the joke is on us.

PAYT represents a fee on top of our taxes. All municipal ratepayers already pay for trash disposal in their taxes, so no matter how many or how few bags they buy, they will not be saving money but instead will pay again for a service to which they are entitled. Seniors may purchase fewer bags than families, but they will still be spending more for trash disposal than they would have without PAYT. That is not a savings; it’s simply a smaller use tax.

Families with small children — especially those who use disposable diapers — can expect to spend a minimum of $20 extra per month, which does represent a hardship for many. I hope no one is suggesting they should try to control their children’s diaper usage. Perhaps the ultimate “opportunity to control their spending” that will next be offered is to eat less and thus have no trash to bag.

Sara Taddeo