Tag Archives: Maine lobstermen

Maine lobster industry must accept that ‘big changes are coming’ despite delay in federal rules, commissioner says

“The work now is critical,” DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher told the Lobster Advisory Council Wednesday. “The buy-in is critical. The data we’re going to be collecting over the next four years is critical. We can’t have infighting. We have to accept big changes are coming. ”Those changes could include additional regulations to make ropes weaker, a move toward ropeless lobster traps and additional restrictions on fishing grounds. Between now and then, the industry needs to report its harvest to federal officials, participate in a vessel tracking program and find ways to help monitor where endangered whales are migrating, Keliher said. >click to read< 08:49

Scientist calls 6-year delay in Maine lobster rules ‘mind-boggling’

Scientists dedicated to saving North Atlantic right whales from extinction say they are optimistic they can work with the fishing industry to save the species. But they were blindsided last month when Maine’s congressional delegation put language in the federal budget to delay for six years regulations that are designed to protect the whales. Amy Knowlton, a senior scientist at the Boston-based New England Aquarium, said the impact of a six-year delay in regulations could be “dramatic.” “It’s mind-boggling that this would be allowed to happen,” she said. But the Maine lobster industry has fought hard against new regulations designed to protect the whales, saying lobstermen aren’t to blame for the whales’ continued decline. Backed by Gov. Janet Mills and the state’s congressional delegation, the industry won a major victory with the six-year delay. >click to read< 15:20

Maine lobstermen: The other endangered species?

When President Biden signs the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill into law, Maine’s lobster industry will take a six-year step back from the brink thanks to the efforts of Maine’s congressional delegation which secured a last-minute addition that put further restrictions to protect endangered right whales on hold. “The pause doesn’t mean this is over,” said Boothbay’s Troy Plummer, member of Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) board of directors and lobster boat operator for nine years. “Everything is status quo until 2028, but we’ll have to do our homework,” said Boothbay Harbor’s Clive Farrin, lobsterman for more than 20 years and past president of Downeast Lobstermen’s Association.  >click to read< 10:10

Zero means zero. ‘We’ve been innocent:’ Federal spending bill could provide lifeline for Maine lobstermen

Tuesday, Maine’s congressional delegation moved to block plans for even stricter federal regulations on Maine lobstermen designed to protect the right whale. If approved, the measure would give the U.S. lobster fishery six years before any further action is taken to prevent fishing gear from entangling whales. Lobstermen say there’s no need for new regulations on them, claiming there’s no evidence whales are getting snared in their gear, but environmentalists say this puts right whales on a path to extinction. “Zero means zero. I mean, we’ve had zero entanglements in the last 20 years,” Knight said. “There’s never been a death attributed to Maine lobster gear. We’ve been innocent right along.” Video, photos, >click to read< 09:20

Maine lobstermen protest Whole Foods after product ban

Lobstermen and women protested Whole Foods in Portland on Monday, after they decided to stop selling Maine lobster. “It’s unfair, it’s unjust and the collateral damage is when others follow the lead that is not found in science and is based on fear,” Rep. Jim Thorne (R-Carmel) said. This is all stemming from the federal government’s stance on Maine lobstermen being a root cause in the endangerment of the Atlantic right whale. “Maine lobster industry is the gold standard of sustainability, and we don’t harm whales,” Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) said. Photos, Video, >click to read< 10:07

Maine lobstermen warn Biden Administration is trying to put them out of business with harsh eco rules

Industry groups and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers from Maine are sounding the alarm that a pending federal environmental regulation would crush the state’s vaunted lobster industry, The proponents of Maine’s nearly $1 billion lobster industry have argued that federal rules aimed at protecting the endangered right whale species from fishing equipment in federally managed waters are unfairly attacking blue-collar lobstermen who rely on the resource to make a living. They have warned that the regulation threatens the livelihood of thousands of Maine lobstermen and individuals employed in supporting industries. Video, Photos, >click to read< 14:00

‘We’re the easiest target’: Maine lobstermen snap over regulations row

When French President Emmanuel Macron was treated to butter-poached Maine lobster at President Joe Biden’s first state dinner, the gesture was hailed 500 miles to the north. It was seen as a gesture of solidarity with an industry that is reeling from the latest in a series of blows in recent years. Having survived the pandemic and a trade war with the Chinese during the Trump years, Maine’s 10,000 lobstermen hoped brighter times were ahead. But in mid-November, the Marine Stewardship Council, an independent sustainability policeman, stepped in, triggering a clash between lobstermen, environmentalists, and the upmarket Jeff Bezos-owned Whole Foods grocery chain. >click to read< 07:34

Biden’s lavish lobster dinner doesn’t change his hostility to seafood industry

Bob Vanasse, executive director of Saving Seafood, commended Golden for calling out Biden on the issue and said that his organization has had trouble meeting with the current administration. Vanasse said that it’s not just lobster, but other seafood industries like tuna and swordfish, are having issues meeting with the White House. “I applaud the congressman for calling out the administration’s hypocrisy when it comes to our domestic fisheries and their policies,” “This is not the first time that something like this has happened, but it is good to see, and particularly a Democrat pointing it out because this administration has frankly not been friendly or helpful to our domestic fishing industry,” >click to read< 20:02

Dem lawmaker criticizes Biden for ritzy White House State Dinner serving ‘200 Maine lobsters’

A Democratic lawmaker is pushing back on President Biden’s pompous White House celebration, where 200 live lobsters will be served for guests Thursday during a State Dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron. The night before the dinner, where guests are expected to enjoy lobster and caviar, Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, took to Twitter to urge Biden to meet with the lobstermen his administration is “currently regulating out of business.” >click to read< 07:53

Judge rules two-year extension before lobster industry regulation changes

A Thursday afternoon opinion was confirmed with bipartisan agreement between environmental groups and Maine lobstermen intervenors to allow the federal government to come up with new regulations to reduce right whale entanglements. Judge James Boasberg of D.C. ruled in favor of the two-year extension as new rules from National Marine Fisheries Service were set to be released this fall. Video, >click to read< 20:43

Letter: Right whale entanglements – the undocumented and unknown statistics

Although there hasn’t been a documented right whale in Maine lobstermen’s gear in recent years, most entanglements are undocumented and the gear’s origin is usually unknown. (For brevity, “whales” is in reference to right whales.) Canadian snow crab gear is a major threat, and the risk of vessel strikes is high, but that doesn’t absolve the lobster fishery. We typically don’t know how, when or where whales die, but we do know that the lobster fishery likely plays a critical role. Politicians and lobstermen repeatedly claim that “no right whale has gotten entangled in a Maine lobstermen’s gear for 18 years and there are no recorded cases of the gear leading to the death of a right whale.” This is very misleading. The whole letter is misleading. >click to read< 12:43

Maine lobstermen hire Bush-era official in challenge to whale laws

Maine lobster fishermen have hired a former high-ranking U.S. Department of Justice official to represent them in their case against new laws intended to protect whales. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is appealing its case against the new rules to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The group said Tuesday it has hired Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general from 2004 to 2008, to represent it in the case. The solicitor general supervises all Supreme Court litigation for the U.S., and Clement has argued dozens of cases in front of the high court. That’s where the lobstermen’s case could ultimately be headed, he said Tuesday. >click to read< 12:39

Press Release – Maine Lobstermen’s Association Hires Former U.S. Solicitor General: Files for Expediated Appeal to Preserve & Protect States Economy. >click to read<

Maine lobstermen fight back – ‘You have failed us’: Maine lobstermen face federal regulators

Maine lobstermen came face to face with federal officials out to impose stricter new rules to save the 350 remaining endangered right whales Wednesday. There have only been two whale entanglements in Maine, most recently in 2004, and no right whale deaths caused by Maine lobster gear. Despite that, NOAA insists these rules are necessary to further reduce the risk of a right whale death. >click to read< ‘You have failed us’: Maine lobstermen face federal regulators – There were some tense moments during a public hearing with Maine lobstermen and federal regulators Wednesday night a the University of Southern Maine in Portland.  The meeting comes after Gov. Janet Mills and members of Maine’s congressional delegation requested NOAA visit the state to discuss tougher rules on the lobster industry. >click to read< 07:51

It’s now or never for Maine’s lobster industry

Driving through and around Belfast on Sunday, I was struck by the half-dozen or so desolated chicken farms. In my youth, Waldo County’s poultry business had gone belly-up. But it seemed more poignant now. Maybe it was because I’ve been stewing over the threat Maine lobster’s industry today faces from an unholy alliance of the federal government and out-of-state special interest groups. Killing Maine’s iconic lobster-fishery is both immoral and unnecessary. Unlike Waldo County’s chicken industry, which in the late 1970s and early 1980s succumbed to competition from Arkansas and Delaware, it is not market forces that Maine lobstermen fear so much as boycotts and excessive regulation based on unproven science. >click to read< By Sam Patten 12:26

Maine lobstermen say ‘red listing’ a threat to their livelihoods without cause

“I truly believe the lobstermen have done everything we’ve been asked by National Marine Fisheries and the DMR,” said Gerry Cushman, who has been lobstering in Port Clyde for 38 years. “We’re not the bad guys here,” he said. “You ask us to do it, we do it. So why are you putting us on the red list? “ The Seafood Watch listing is recommending consumers not buy American lobster from either the U.S. or Canada. Maine is the primary producer of that lobster for the U.S. Cushman said he believes Seafood Watch has taken the action against Maine fishermen to pressure them to stop fighting proposed regulations in court. Steve Train, a lobsterman from Long Island in Casco Bay, echoed those points, saying Maine fishermen have followed all the whale protection rules, even though they have also been challenging them in court. Video, >click to read< 19:37

Maine Lobstering Union drops part of lawsuit against NMFS

The Maine Lobstering Union is agreeing to drop part of its lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Services, where the federal agency is closing a 960-square-mile section of the Gulf of Maine to lobster fishers. The area, known as LMA 1, is home to hundreds of fishermen like Tyler Turner of Portland. If the closure stands without a state-level court injunction, then Turner said he would lose out on at least half his income. “It’s going to be catastrophic. It’s going to be crippling. I just want to be able to work. I can relieve myself. I don’t need someone telling me where I can’t go,” Turner said. Video, >click to read< 08:14

Fishery regulators will discuss possible rise in minimum lobster size

Fishing regulators will gather in Virginia next week to talk about the potential of raising the minimum size lobsters need to be in order to be harvested by New England fishermen. The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission’s lobster management board is meeting on Tuesday to discuss the implications of a proposal that would install new minimum size limits and other regulations for the crustaceans, either gradually over time or triggered by lobster populations dipping below a certain level. The proposal was drafted to protect the lobster population as surveys show indications of potential future decline. The idea has rankled many Maine lobstermen,,, >click to read< 09:25

Economic destructive inflation: Falling wholesale prices put squeeze on Maine lobstermen

The price lobstermen got for their catches hovered around $8 a pound in 2021, which they said was one of their best years ever, with a plentiful haul, high prices and stable costs. This year, however, is shaping up to be one of the worst Maine lobstermen have faced in decades, with prices falling to about half of what they were last year. Prices have dropped by half and wholesalers say demand also is down sharply as inflation has weakened the economy and hurt the market for shellfish. With consumers paying high prices to fill up gas tanks and to buy groceries, lobsters are a luxury that many cross off their shopping lists. Inflation is hitting lobstermen, too, particularly when they fill up fuel tanks before heading out to tend their traps. They say pretty much everything they need costs more this year, from fuel, oil and repairs for their engines to ropes and traps. Bait, too,,, photos, >click to read<

Lobstermen frustrated by regulations after new study shows whale entanglements decline

A new report has Maine lobstermen saying, “I told you so.” The report says large whale entanglements dropped in 2020, including for the right whale. Lobstermen in Maine have long argued they should not be blamed for the right whales’ population decline, which makes this new study from NOAA all the more frustrating. “I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Harpswell lobster boat captain Forrest Moody said. “This is what we know.” Moody calls the new changes to the industry “life-altering.” “There hasn’t always been evidence to prove or say what they were asking us to do but we still were, we were still made to do it,” Moody said. Video, photos, >click to read< 09:08

Maine Lobstermen should see flexibility in enforcement of new NOAA gear rules

The deadline for lobstermen to comply with new regulations meant to protect North Atlantic Right Whales has come and gone. State officials estimate that 50% to 60% of federal lobster fishery permit holders are not yet fully compliant with new rules requiring either new “weak rope”  or plastic weak links be spliced into existing end lines. Supply chain issues are a big reason why. While they declined to move the May 1st deadline… NOAA recently announced they would allow a quote graduated enforcement effort that will focus on compliance assistance rather than civil penalties. Video, >click to read< 09:48

‘It used to be just simple:’ Maine lobstermen concerned for future of industry

From new regulations to high fuel prices, some Maine lobstermen say they just can’t catch a break. Many are concerned for the future of the industry that is so much a part of Maine. Steve Train grew up lobstering. “I’ve just always had a love for this as a way to make a living,” Train said. Lobstermen are facing many obstacles, from offshore wind farms to impending federal fishing regulations meant to protect endangered right whales and even high fuel prices. photos, video, >click to read< 10:09

Maine Right whale advocates say they feel sidelined by the powerful lobster industry

As Maine’s lobstermen fight national conservation groups over federal gear rules and fishery closures intended to protect endangered whales, they have found fierce allies among the state’s political leaders. That’s left some local advocates for the whales feeling sidelined by the powerful industry. A few weeks ago, lobstermen joined lawmakers to support a bill that would give nearly a million dollars directly to the industry for its legal battles over whale protection measures. None of Maine’s more well-known conservation groups weighed in, but a handful of local advocates for the planet’s estimated 340 North Atlantic right whales testified against it. >click to read< 10:38

Lobstermen worry looming deadline for new regulations comes ‘too soon’ to change gear

At the beginning of the year, Maine lobstermen were having a hard time finding the new gear that is being required to help protect right whales. Though suppliers are now starting to see these new weak ropes and links come in, they haven’t received a flurry of new orders despite the looming spring implementation date. Starting on May 1, lobstermen, depending on where they fish, will have to have ropes running from their buoys to traps that can break with 1,700 pounds of force, or have inserts in the line that allow it to snap easier should a whale ever get entangled in them. >click to read< 11:15

Supply chain issues? Maine lobstermen can’t find gear to comply with new federal regulations

David Tarr, a Brooklin lobsterman, has called around to supply stores and they’re not sure when the gear is supposed to come in, possibly in a couple months. “We can’t get the things that will meet their criteria,” he said. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has received numerous reports that there isn’t a sufficient supply of approved ropes or weak links, a spokesperson said. The department plans to share the reports with federal regulators so they’re aware of the potential challenges with fishery-wide compliance. >click to read< 07:55

Patrice McCarron: Maine lobstermen are committed to protecting our ocean

In-depth, investigative reporting is increasingly rare these days. The resulting series, “The Lobster Trap” missed the boat, however, in its quest to invent a drama that places Maine’s lobster industry on the front line in the “battle over climate change.” From the lobster industry’s perspective, the series doesn’t accurately tell their story. Its seven key takeaways are disconnected from the people who were just a means to an end. This reporting dismisses, dehumanizes and minimizes fishermen’s role in mitigation and adaptation strategies, and it perpetuates a narrative that they are unwilling to engage in climate change conversations. >click to read< 09:21

Maine’s lobster industry is in a fight for its survival

In October, a U.S. District Court judge in Bangor had ruled that there was reason to question the federal government’s decision to close this prime lobstering area for four months this winter. When an appeals court overturned this decision in November, lobstermen who had already set traps in this area were forced to dangerously hurry and take them up, creating economic hardship for those who invested in gear, rigged up and were already fishing in these productive waters. For Maine’s lobster industry, this is another frustrating example of one step forward, two steps back. This latest court ruling, however, is just the tip of the iceberg that threatens to sink the fishery. >click to read< 09:57

Maine lobstermen appeal to the public to fund legal fight against federal regulations

Without the financial means to fight both the government and environmental activists, lobstermen said their very existence is at stake. Lobstermen speaking at the press conference (today) said they feared the offshore regulations currently proposed would creep inshore, where most of them fish, eventually choking off their livelihoods. They also stressed how much money their industry brings into the state and how it supports communities beyond fishermen. According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine’s 2020 lobster catch was worth $406 million. That was down from $491 million in 2019. “That’s why we need everyone to step up and help us save the fishery,” photos, >click to read< 17:59

Opinion: Federal rules are sinking Maine’s lobster industry

As a lifelong Maine lobsterman, I understand the inherent dangers of my job. I keep watch on the forecast knowing that sudden weather changes can make the difference between a successful day at work and putting my crew’s life at risk. These days, however, the hazard posed by Mother Nature does not compare with the perfect storm of regulations coming out of Washington that threaten my job, our way of life and may eventually sink a fishery that has supported communities and generations of families here in Maine. By Kristan Porter >click to read< 15:18

Can American lobstermen survive new restrictions, ESA listing of the North Atlantic Right Whale?

For centuries, North Atlantic right whales were aggressively hunted for their meat and their oil, which was used to keep lamps lit and to make soap.,, Since 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has documented 34 dead whales (21 in Canada; 13 in the U.S.), and 16 whales with serious injuries from entanglements or vessel strikes. In an attempt to conserve and rebuild the population, NOAA announced new regulations in August 2021 on the Maine lobster and Jonah crab industries, including the closure of large parts of the Gulf of Maine to lobstering between October and January and requiring more traps per trawl to reduce the overall number of lines in the water. >click to read< By A.N. Smith 13:15

Maine: Next Generation Of Lobstermen Brace For Unprecedented Change

On a boat near Kennebunkport in late July, lobsterman Chris Welch demonstrated new ropeless gear made by a Massachusetts company. It costs about $4,000 per trap, several times more than a traditional lobster trap, which is usually $80-180. “So far it is retrievable,” Welch says. “But the challenge of the Maine fishery is there’s 5,000 lobstermen and we all fish amongst each other and attempt not to fish on top of each other. With these units unless you’re staring at your electronics all day or your iPad, there’s no way of knowing where the next guy is.”  The 33-year-old is against going ropeless and thinks the gear is a long way from being practical or affordable for most lobstermen. “I foresee it becoming a big boat fishery,” >click to read<  10:55