39th Maine forum highlights include visit from ‘Deadliest Catch’ captain

ROCKPORT, ME – Anyone who’s a fan of the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” reality series might want to make an extra effort to arrive early for this year’s Maine Fishermen’s Forum, which begins on Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Samoset Resort here.

Keith Colburn, captain of the F/V Wizard, a 155′ Bering Sea crabber that’s featured in the series, will be headlining a three-and-a-half hour session titled “Fish Talk:  West Coast Style,” which will focus on the differences between East and West Coast fisheries.

The session starts at 1pm on Thursday and, according to forum board member Gerry Cushman, is purposely designed to be casual – an easy Q&A style where attendees can ask Colburn anything they want.

Colburn knows what he’s getting into.  Part way into a bike trip through Maine last summer, he cycled into Port Clyde, which is Cushman’s home port.  There, he met Gerry, slept in Gerry’s fish shack after refusing an invitation to stay at his house, met one of his vacation goals by going out lobstering with Gerry’s brother Randy Cushman, and then took part in a sizable lobster feed with, well, pretty much the whole Port Clyde community.

“People just kept asking him questions,” said Cushman.

This bottomless well of curiosity about Alaska fishing, the Wizard, the Bering Sea, and Colburn himself is what led Cushman to think that a visit to the Maine Fishermen’s Forum just might be in order.

And, when Cushman called Colburn to see if he’d be willing to attend the Maine forum, the Bering Sea crabber readily accepted.  Not only did he agree to take the helm of Thursday afternoon’s “Fish Talk:  West Coast Style” session, he decided he’d spend the whole weekend at the forum.

So, don’t be surprised if the Deadliest Catch captain wanders into the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s annual meeting on Friday morning, Feb. 28, or possibly pokes his head into the Saturday, March 1 “Bait Update” discussion.

According to Cushman, Colburn is friendly, genuinely interested in New England fisheries, and looking forward to his visit.

“He loves kids,” said Cushman.  “He’s the kind of guy who’d sign autographs for them.”


Food, fun, gear, and beer

Also at this year’s forum, people will have numerous opportunities to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, the Health Insurance Marketplace, and even sign up for coverage.

The University of Southern Maine’s School of Nursing will be hosting another health clinic
where volunteer nurses will be conducting free blood pressure checks and glucose and cholesterol screening, as well as administering a limited number of tetanus shots.

The Maine Elver Fishermen’s Association will be holding its annual meeting.  The Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association will be hosting its preseason 2014 meeting.  The Maine Coast Community Sector will be holding a meeting.  And the newly reformed Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative will update industry members on this latest lobster promotion effort that is financed by lobster license surcharges.

The seminar range this year is especially broad, covering everything from scallop farming to seaweed aquaculture to the green crab invasion that’s now causing problems along large stretches of coastal Maine.

Through it all, the 118-booth trade show will be open for perusing, showcasing engines, traps, safety gear, and more.  And for those who need a break, the Decompression Chamber is the perfect venue to kick back, listen to some music, watch Maine videos, and gather with old friends and have a beer.

Thursday night’s opening seafood reception and Friday night’s fresh fish dinner are regular forum features and “don’t miss” events, as is Friday night’s auction to benefit the Maine Fishermen’s Forum Scholarship Fund.

Last year, the forum raised $21,000 through the auction, which was supplemented by a few cash contributions.  In turn, the board handed out 21 individual $1,000 scholarships during Saturday’s closing banquet to college students who come from Maine fishing families.

Since 1998, the forum has given out over $254,500 in scholarships and hopes to add significantly to that total when auctioneer Dennis Damon picks up his gavel at this year’s event.

For more information, visit the forum website at <www.mainefishermensforum.org> call forum coordinator Chilloa Young at (207) 442-7700.  /cfn/