February 04, 2019
School of Marine Programs graduate student Curtis Fahey recently testified before members of the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Marine Resources.
Fahey testified neither for nor against LD4, “An Act To Encourage Applied Shellfish Research,” giving committee members his personal perspective on how the bill could affect researchers by adding more requirements before they can conduct their work.
“At the core of this legislation is a reasonable and valid idea: research conducted by non-governmental research entities should be overseen by and reported to the state,” Fahey told lawmakers. “However, the proposed legislation appears to duplicate existing procedures for state oversight and approval of research, and adds a layer of bureaucracy that may not be necessary.”
Fahey said that requiring researchers to go through additional steps may drive them out of state.
“It could make me shy away from doing more research,” Fahey explained. “I could find somewhere in New Hampshire or Massachusetts that has a similar ecosystem, without so much red tape.”
The proposed legislature would require research entities to be approved by the state Department of Marine Resources (DMR).
“But the proposal provides no criteria or standards that DMR would use to approve research entities,” Fahey told members of the panel.
Susan Farady, J.D., assistant professor in the School of Marine Programs, accompanied Fahey to the State House. She said the experience gave Fahey a look at some of the issues researchers may face in their professional careers.
“Science majors in the School of Marine Programs may certainly run into management implications,” she stated. “Getting to see how the legislature works and having an interest in what they're debating is a really valuable experience.”
Fahey was the only researcher to provide testimony on the bill.
“He brought the real researcher perspective to the table that otherwise would have been missing,” commented Markus Frederich, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Marine Sciences.
Committee members will debate the issue further at an upcoming work session.