Tag Archives: Department of Marine Resources

Legislators, lobstermen press case against ‘draconian’ whale rules

Two area legislators led a delegation Wednesday to the Maine Attorney General’s Office to press their case for a full representation for the state’s lobster industry against what they say are draconian and unjustified measures being proposed by the federal government to protect right whales. Independent Reps. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship and Bill Pluecker of Warren met Sept. 18 with Attorney General Aaron Frey and two staff attorneys who represent the Department of Marine Resources. >click to read<  11:25

Maine fishing practices at center of debate about endangered right whale

Hutchings thinks the looming regulations to save the right whale, an endangered species, are only part of the problem with the industry. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is proposing the new rules. He would like to continue fishing lobster for a few more years to be able to say he spent 50 years as a fisherman, but said he feels more financial constraints every year. “I’d hate to be a young guy starting out,” Hutchings said. “ … It (NOAA) should be more worried about the fishermen becoming extinct.” >click to read< 11:49

Bonnet Carre Spillway shut down as river falls below flood stage

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the weekend completed the shutdown of the Bonnet Carre Spillway north of New Orleans, starting a process that will lead to the return of normal saltwater conditions in the Mississippi Sound. The return to normalcy in the Sound will take a minimum of two to four weeks,,, Recovery of aspects of the seafood industry is going to take years to recover, Graham said, citing the oysters, whose beds have been virtually destroyed by the fresh water.,, He said the shrimp industry, which, according to the Department of Marine Resources, over the past five years have yielded 2 million pounds in June, compared with about 500,000 pounds this June, should recover much quicker. >click to read< 08:25

With herring shortage, lobster industry looks to other bait sources

The care and feeding of lobsters in the face of a bait crisis was the focus of a presentation at Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries ,,, With a shortage in herring, most lobstermen’s first choice to bait lobster traps, the industry is looking for solutions. “No bait is a big problem for a state that depends so much on lobster,” Stoll said. With about $60 million in ex-vessel landings value at the Stonington port in 2018, the commercial lobster industry supports thousands of local jobs, he noted. “Lobster is currently the most valuable fishery in the U.S., and 80 percent comes from Stonington.” >click to read< 10:58

The best available science? – Backing lobstermen, Rep. Golden seeks to withhold funds for right whale protections

“The federal government is asking Maine lobstermen to make huge sacrifices without clear evidence that those sacrifices will have any positive impact on right whales,” Golden wrote in a statement Wednesday. “I’ve joined lobstermen to voice our concerns and now it’s time for action. Golden said it is important to help the right whale, but he joined the Maine lobster industry and Maine’s fishing managers in a common refrain: the federal government has no conclusive proof that right whales are getting hurt or killed by entanglement in Maine lobster gear. >click to read> 09:46

Mississippi’s shrimp season will open Thursday. It doesn’t look good.

Mississippi’s shrimp season will open this Thursday, June 20 at 6am, despite samples showing smaller shrimp than typical for opening day. That’s the decision from Tuesday’s Commission on Marine Resources meeting. It’s not a cause for celebration though. It’s more of a sign of desperation. Usually, the legal count for shrimp must be 68 shrimp per pound before the season is opened. Right now, samples are showing 112,,, Experts also report that brown shrimp reproduction is down 90%. “I don’t think it really matters. I think the situation now is only getting worse, so why don’t we take the best we can? The only chance we have now is to allow our shrimpers to have some chance to have a life this year,” said Joe Spraggins, the director of the Department of Marine Resources. >click to read<19:36

Meetings Begin On New Lobster Gear Rules To Protect Right Whales

Maine lobstermen will meet with state marine resources officials in Trenton Tuesday evening to consider coming regulations that could force the industry to reduce by half the amount of fixed-gear trap rope placed in the ocean.,, Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, says it’s a difficult but attainable goal, whether through reducing actual per-boat trap numbers or by sinking more traps per line in the water.,,, Tonight’s meeting of the Lobster Zone B Council starts at 6 p.m. at the Trenton Elementary School. The Department of Marine Resources has scheduled such meetings in each of the state’s seven lobster zones over the course of this month. >click to read<12:21

Shrimpers keep their fingers crossed for the upcoming season

It was a busy morning at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. Fishermen and shrimpers were getting ready for the 2019 Blessing of the Fleet while selling whatever fresh seafood they managed to catch overnight. “Jumbo shrimp are $4 a pound. How many do want?” asked one of the women selling shrimp on the back of her boat. As their boats pass along the water for a blessing from the priest, the people who make their living out on the water hope for some divine intervention. “Right now there is too much fresh water. No shrimp,” said Lien Nguyen. >video, click to read<

New rules are meant to save whales; lobstermen wonder if they’ll survive

The state Department of Marine Resources has until September to come up with a way that it can cut the number of buoy lines in the Gulf of Maine by 50 percent. Federal regulators say that’s what it will take to reduce the risk of fatal entanglement enough for the species to survive. Scientists estimate only 411 right whales remain. The species has been on the brink of extinction before, most recently in 1992, when its population bottomed out at 295. It rebounded to about 500 in 2010, but low calving rates, ship strikes and fishing line entanglements have sent its numbers tumbling, yet again. But many in Maine’s $485 million industry worry it is the lobsterman who will face extinction,,, >click to read<10:28

Freshwater in the Mississippi Sound Causing Concern for Shrimp Season

The Department of Marine Resources typically opens our state’s shrimp season during the first week of June every year. What’s different this season? There’s freshwater flushing out into the Mississippi Sound because of the twice-opened Bonnet Carre Spillway to alleviate flooding. Now, local fishermen are concerned over how the reduced salinity will impact Mississippi’s shrimp harvest. >click to read<10:39

Shrimp season comes with fears of uncertainty – Most of the people we spoke with were worried that the freshwater incursion from the Bonnet Carré Spillway would hurt the Mississippi shrimp season. >Video, click to read<

Maine DMR chief briefs Legislature on whales, bait

Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher briefed the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee on the latest news from the lobster bait and whale front. The news was not good. Speaking at a May 7 committee workshop, Keliher said the state was under severe pressure from NOAA Fisheries to find ways to reduce the number of vertical lines in the water that connect lobster traps to surface buoys. NOAA seeks a line reduction of more than 60 percent and wants it done soon. >click to read<11:21

Maine lobster fishery agrees to deep cuts to protect whales

After a long and difficult week in late April in which the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Take Reduction Team met to address protections for the endangered right whale, the Maine lobster fishery now has a sense of what the future holds. There were some hard battles along the way, in which we lobster industry advocates fought to ensure a viable Maine fishery, both for today’s lobstermen and for future generations. By Patrice McCarron >click to read<14:39

Competing interests – “The farmer and the cowman should be friends,” according to Richard Rodgers’ lyrics in “Oklahoma!” Can a similar peace pact be visited upon Maine’s lobstermen and the advocates of whale safety? >click to read<

Halving the number of vertical lines – Finding consensus on whale protections a tough call in Maine

Federal regulators have given Maine’s lobster industry its marching orders: Find a way to cut the number of surface-to-seabed fishing lines by 50 percent to help prevent the injury or death of even one of the endangered right whales that pass through the Gulf of Maine. The National Marine Fisheries Service is allowing each lobstering state to develop its own plan to protect the whale, whose numbers have fallen to a little more than 400 in recent years. But it will be hard to find one way to make it work in Maine, where the $485 million-a-year fishery is known for its diversity. >click to read<07:29

Maine cancels right whale meetings with lobster industry

The state Department of Marine Resources is canceling a series of meetings with the lobster industry next week to talk about right whale protections, saying it has nothing new to present to lobstermen until federal officials clearly identify a risk reduction target. The National Marine Fisheries Service, which is tasked with protecting right whales from entanglement in lobster fishing gear, is introducing new scientific methodologies and analyses that could cause large-scale changes to the lobster industry, Commissioner Patrick Keliher said. >click to read<11:11

Lobstermen petition state to tighten aquaculture rules, want a moratorium on large aquaculture leases

A wave of aquaculture operations has swept along the coast in the last few years, sparking concerns from some about waterfront access, aesthetics and interference with other commercial fisheries. “I’m here to let the Department of Marine Resources know that their system of granting aquaculture leases is broken or even worse, non-existent, as far as it pertains to the commercial lobstermen in this state,” said John Powers, a lobstermen who has fished around Brunswick for 40 years, at a press conference in the State House Wednesday. >click to read<12:24

Cod fishery plummets to least valuable year since 1960s

Maine’s cod fishery, once one of the most lucrative in the Northeast, has declined to the point that it had its least valuable year in more than a half-century in 2018. The state’s industry harvesting the fish-and-chips staple goes back centuries, and it once brought millions of pounds of the fish to land year after year. But data from the state Department of Marine Resources indicate the state’s cod were worth just over $200,000 at the docks last year — less than the median price of a single-family home in Maine. >click to read<09:56

Stonington remains top port in 2018

After a 16 percent drop in 2017, commercial lobster landings and value rebounded in Maine in 2018, bringing in 119,640,379 pounds of lobster for $484,543,633 in ex-vessel value. An increase in boat price, from $3.92 per-pound in 2017 to $4.05 in 2018, helped drive the over $46 million increase in lobster landing value in Maine, which totaled $637,174,944, according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Marine Resources on March 1. >click to read<11:52

Cut in herring quota bodes ill for lobster

Imagine running a trucking business and having your supply of diesel fuel cut by70 percent. For all practical purposes, that’s what happened to the Maine lobster industry last week. On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries arm announced that it was cutting the 2019 herring quota by about 70 percent. That’s bad news for lobstermen. While diesel oil is the fuel that powers most lobster boats, herring is the fuel that powers the Maine lobster industry. Herring is the most popular bait used in the Maine lobster fishery and with the cut in the herring quota from about 110 million pounds last year to about 33 million pounds this year, bait is going to be scarce, and expensive. >click to read<22:16

Marine Resources Committee open for business, sets Keliher confirmation hearing

The Marine Resources Committee has new co-chairs, Sen. Dave Miramant (D-Knox County) and Rep. Joyce McCreight (D-Harpswell), and will hold its first hearings this week. First out of the gate at the Marine Resources Committee is LD 4 — “An Act To Encourage Applied Shellfish Research” — sponsored by Rep. Robert Alley (D-Beals) and scheduled for a hearing at 1 p.m. on Thursday Jan. 24. >click to read<14:46

Pembroke river closure upsets scallopers

The closure of all of the Pennamaquan River to scallop dragging because of the mooring field off the Pembroke boat landing on Hersey Neck has upset some scallop fishermen who would like to drag in that area. Perry fisherman Howard Calder notes that draggers used to go there first at the start of the season because there were so many scallops there. While they’re no longer as abundant in the river, the area does provide a sheltered place for dragging on windy days. “It’s too bad to have it completely shut down,” he says. The area was closed to scallop dragging at the request of the Town of Pembroke, according to Jeff Nichols, the communications director for the Department of Marine Resources (DMR).  >click to read<16:25

Fishing industry lobbies for Maine commissioner to retain his post

The leaders of Maine’s fishing industry want Patrick Keliher to stay on as head of the state’s Department of Marine Resources under incoming governor Janet Mills. “Our industries are confronted by major issues on the water, in international waters, and within several regulatory arenas that have major consequences for our ability to do business and remain profitable,” industry leaders wrote in a rare joint letter to Mills. “The future success of Maine’s seafood industry depends on the continued strong leadership, stability, institutional knowledge and political capital that only Commissioner Keliher possesses.” >click to read<10:36

Maine: Scallop season opens to positive early reports

The Downeast scallop season got underway this weekend and early reports are that the fleet was active, the fishing good and the price satisfactory. Divers got the first crack at scallops in Blue Hill Bay as their season opened on Saturday. Draggers had to wait until Monday to get out on the water. According to Marine Patrol Sgt. Colin MacDonald, plenty of them did despite less than ideal conditions. Saturday was a good day for diving. Though the temperature was chilly, scallop buyer Joshua Buxton said divers selling to him at the South Blue Hill pier all reported that there was no wind on the bay and that the water wasn’t rough. Monday was a different story,,, >click to read<10:20

Commercial fishermen oppose proposed oyster farm in Brunswick

A group of Brunswick commercial fishermen opposed an application by Mere Point Oyster Co. for a 40-acre lease in Maquoit Bay. “If I can’t go there because there’s something in the way, then I’m not going to stand for it,” lobster fisherman Andrew Ulrikson said during a Nov. 19 hearing held by the Department of Marine Resources, The Times Record reported. But Marine Resources aquaculture program director Jon Lewis said that the project can be approved with conditions to follow certain practices. >click to read<17:43

Whale protection, trawl limits entangle Zone C lobstermen

October is a peak month, according to the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, for feistiness in Maine’s population of hornets and wasps. Lobstermen too, judging by last week’s meeting of the Zone C Lobster Management Council at Deer Isle-Stonington High School.,, While the trawl rule was at the forefront of last week’s debate, lurking just below the surface was a technical memorandum issued late last month by the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. >click to read<11:49

Large pogy catch good news for Maine lobstermen who feared bait shortage

All of the landings have yet to be counted, but officials say it is likely that an unusually large pogy fleet will have caught almost 7 million pounds of the fish, which is more than double last year’s landings. This comes as especially good news for Maine lobstermen, who use pogies to bait their traps when the herring supply runs low, as it is expected to this year. “Every pogy used was herring not used,” said Kristan Porter, a Cutler lobsterman and president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, which has been working with its members to prepare them for the herring shortage. >click to read<07:09

Halibut landings up, so Maine halibut landings to go down

Just as in the physical world, it’s a quirk of the regulatory world of fisheries management that when something goes up, something must go down, and it isn’t always the same thing. Last week, the Department of Marine Resources held a series of public hearings in Ellsworth, Machias and Augusta on a proposed regulation that would shorten the Maine halibut fishing season by 20 days, cut the number of allowable hooks for halibut fishing on each boat and ban possession of halibut by fishermen who have state-issued halibut tags who have been fishing outside the three-mile state waters limit. >click to read<10:55

The only Mainer ever to have fishing licenses permanently revoked facing eel charges

On Tuesday, a warrant was issued for Lucas Lemoine’s arrest after he failed to appear in court in Hancock County on two fishing-related misdemeanor charges, according to court documents. Lemoine, 36, of Southwest Harbor, has 30 criminal convictions or civil adjudications for fishing violations that date back to 1998, according to Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols. In 2015, his fishing licenses were revoked permanently by DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher for what Keliher at the time called “a pattern of willful disregard” for Maine’s marine resources laws. At one point in March 2015, weeks before his scallop and lobster licenses were revoked,,, >click to read<10:41

Court dismissal ends lobster dealer’s potboiler

A saga involving allegations of skullduggery by a Mount Desert Island lobster dealer on the waters of Blue Hill Bay reached its final chapter last week in Ellsworth. A Superior Court judge dismissed a single charge against Donald Crabtree of failing to keep required records or not reporting all of his lobster purchases. The story began in the summer of 2015 with an investigation by Maine Marine Patrol officers who had heard complaints that Crabtree was buying lobsters on a barge moored outside Seal Cove in Blue Hill Bay but wasn’t filing the required landings reports with the Department of Marine Resources. >click to read< 11:39

Scientists say Maine’s lobster boom won’t last. Here are the fisheries coming next

In southern New England, many fishermen have turned their attention to species such as Jonah crab and black sea bass, the numbers of which have increased as ocean temperatures warm and as lobster in the region have become more scarce. Maine’s lobster landings remain near historic highs, but some say the changes that have occurred south of Cape Cod are inevitable in the Gulf of Maine. “I know it’s a hard concept to get around, but it’s going to happen,” Norbert Stamps, a Rhode Island fisherman, told a roomful of other fishermen at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in Rockport in March. “It seems as the lobster declined [in southern New England], the crab increased. And sea bass are everywhere.” >click to read<10:43

Maine baby eel harvest on pace to hit record value under catch limits

Halfway through the 2018 fishing season for baby eels, the value of landings in Maine is on track to reach its highest annual total since a statewide catch limit was imposed four years ago. With the average price remaining above $2,300 per pound since opening day on March 22, the value of the statewide catch so far was $12 million as of Thursday evening. That’s just $130,000 shy of the catch value for all of 2017. It represents 4,600 pounds caught statewide since the season started, meaning fishermen have not yet reached the halfway point of Maine’s overall annual catch limit of 9,688 pounds. >click to read<10:24