John Banks 1st Indigenous Person to Participate in NASCO Annual Mtg
Written by John Dieffenbacher-Krall
John Banks, a Penobscot Nation citizen and member of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission (MITSC) since 1987, recently participated in the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) Annual Meeting held in Happy Valley – Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada from June 2 to June 5. John is the first Indigenous Person to serve as an official member of the US delegation to the NASCO Annual Meeting.
“It was an honor to be part of the US delegation to the 32nd annual NASCO convention in Goose Bay, Labrador. This is the first time a tribal representative has been asked to attend the NASCO convention,” stated John Banks, Natural Resources Director for the Penobscot Indian Nation. He added, “The conservation of the wild Atlantic salmon is a priority of the Penobscot Nation.”
Daniel Morris, head of the US delegation to NASCO and Deputy Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, invited John Banks to join the US delegation to tap his expertise concerning and extensive involvement in the Penobscot River Restoration Project. The Penobscot River Restoration Project comprises one of the largest river restoration projects ever undertaken with the removal of the Great Works Dam in 2012, Veazie Dam in 2013, and decommissioning of the Howland Dam and construction of a bypass this year. John gave a special presentation on the Penobscot River Restoration Project during a NASCO theme-based special session, “Maintaining and Improving River Connectivity with Particular Focus on Impacts of Hydropower.”
“Mr. Banks' perspective was a critical part of the positions the US delegation took into the meeting,” said Daniel Morris. “He described and celebrated the accomplishments of the Penobscot Trust with technical precision while also taking the time to explain why recovery of Atlantic salmon is so important to the Penobscot Nation. By forgoing a sustenance fishery since 1989, the Penobscot Nation has set a compelling example of the sacrifice that all the NASCO parties might have to make to enable the protection and recovery of Atlantic salmon. It was a real pleasure and education to have John on the team,” emphasized Mr. Morris.
The MITSC is an intergovernmental body formed by statute as part of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement. It is charged, in part, “with reviewing the effectiveness of the Maine Implementing Act and the social, economic and legal relationship between the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation and the State.” The Commission also promulgates fishing rules for MITSC waters, certain water bodies bordered by Passamaquoddy and/or Penobscot land, and makes recommendations about fish and wildlife management policies on non-Indian lands to protect fish and wildlife stocks on lands and waters subject to regulation by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Indian Nation, or the MITSC. John Banks is the longest serving MITSC Commissioner in the Commission’s history, serving 28 years.
NASCO is an intergovernmental organization formed by a treaty in 1984 and is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Its objectives are the conservation, restoration and rational management of wild Atlantic salmon stocks, which do not recognize national boundaries. It is the only intergovernmental organization with this mandate which it implements through international consultation, negotiation and co-operation.
Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission (MITSC)
13 Commissary Point Road, Trescott Township, ME 04652
Paul Thibeault, Managing Director: 207-271-7762