December 13, 2018
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Brunswick revamps marine resources oversight after longtime warden retires

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Brunswick Marine Resources Officer Dan Devereaux steers an airboat after checking a trap designed to catch invasive green crabs in Buttermilk Cove, June 27, 2014.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Prompted by the retirement of longtime marine resource officer and harbormaster Dan Devereaux in the spring, the town of Brunswick is in the process of separating the position into two, with Brunswick police Officer Dan Sylvain assuming the role of marine resource officer.

Sylvain will begin the marine warden position on Monday, after spending several weeks training his replacement as a patrol officer, Brunswick police Cmdr. Tom Garrepy said. Sylvain will train with Devereaux for several months.

Following Devereaux’s retirement in May, he was rehired to continue as marine resource officer and harbormaster while the town searched for a replacement, Garrepy said.

They received applications from “several viable candidates” who for one reason or another weren’t hired. So Sylvain, a Brunswick police officer since 2007, offered to take on the role.

Sylvain’s position will include all enforcement including patrolling the shellfish flats, monitoring shellfish violations and assisting with water sampling.

Devereaux, who has worked for the Brunswick Police Department for 21 years, is now working with Town Manager John Eldridge to develop an administrative position similar to a harbormaster, which would assure that someone continues the more administrative tasks Devereaux has taken on over the years.

“Dan’s [Devereaux] passion morphed this position into something [else],” Garrepy said. “He’s a doer and has a plethora of knowledge. I think Brunswick is on the forefront of [marine resources initiatives]. Dan has certainly spearheaded many different legislative endeavors to make shellfish management and [the industry] much more sustainable and energized.”

Among those tasks are sampling ocean water for the Department of Marine Resources, staffing the town’s Marine Resources Committee and Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission, working with legislators and providing testimony at the State House, and picking up some of the tasks of the former natural resources planner, a position that was eliminated nearly a decade ago.

“Dan’s been doing double duty,” Eldridge said. “We’re still trying to work through how the remaining duties [aside from enforcement] will get taken care of. Dan [Devereaux] is going to help us sort through that … We take a lot of pride in Brunswick of our conservation efforts, the type of work he’s done is something we want to continue. Those are the kinds of things we’ve got to figure out how to carry on going forward. A lot of it is trying to find the best way to keep that momentum or level of expertise where it belongs.”

Garrepy said the town is lucky to be retaining Devereaux’s institutional knowledge in an administrative position.

“The knowledge base will still be there, and this will free up Dan to do administrative, management and legislative [tasks],” he said.

Devereaux, along with longtime Brunswick resident Doug Niven, have also started Mere Point Oyster Company near Niven’s home on Mere Point, and have applied to the state for a 40-acre oyster farm lease.

And with Sylvain, a sworn officer, serving as marine warden, he’ll be available as back-up for patrol officers when needed.

Devereaux said he’s happy he’ll continue to work on marine-related issues.

“Hopefully, I can lend that to somebody else to take over,” he said. “But I will stay in the position as long as they’ll let me.”

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