Tag Archives: Maine Lobstermen’s Association

North Atlantic Right Whale: Extinction Is Looming. Everyone’s Fighting.

This May, new rules created for the lobster industry by the National Marine Fisheries Service will become official policy for boats operating in right whale territory. The agency estimates that lobster and Jonah crab traps are responsible for 95 percent of vertical end-line ropes in the areas where whale protections apply and therefore pose the most risk for entangling whales. The Fisheries Service says these changes will reduce the risk of death and serious injury by 69 percent. But in the months after the rules were finalized, the agency has seen pushback from conservation groups, who argue the new protections aren’t enough, and lobster fishing crews, who say the rules will harm their business. >click to read< 14:22

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: Whale rules, pending lawsuits focus of gloomy Lobster Advisory Council meeting

A complicated and potentially grim future is predicted for the commercial lobster industry, with environmental groups, gear changes, the closure of offshore waters to lobster fishing and judicial rulings painting a “doom and gloom” picture, in the words of Department of Marine Resources  Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “I think there’s going to be a lot of moving pieces,” Some of those pieces could spell the end of the commercial lobster fishery in Maine, DMR Deputy Commissioner Meredith Mendelson said, as she ran through the current lawsuits aimed at preserving the North Atlantic right whale. If any or all prevail, the lobster fishery will bear the brunt of the results. >click to read< 08:12

‘The Lobster Trap’

You’d never know it to meet McCarthy, an unassuming, soft-spoken man who goes to work in a T-shirt and waterproof oilskins but he is, at 32, among the most successful lobstermen in a place where lobster is king. On this remote and rocky island, 15 miles offshore, virtually everyone from the grocery clerk to the family doctor traces their living back to the tanks full of lobster that these boats haul into port each day.,,, In the next decade, regulators will demand that lobstermen like him, who fish in federal waters, switch to a brand-new type of gear that minimizes risk for whales, by eliminating vertical ropes that can ensnare them. >click to read< 08:24

Surge in baitfish catch is a boon to Maine’s lobstermen

Maine’s lobster fishermen typically bait their traps with dead herring, but a scientific assessment in 2020 found that herring are overfished, and quotas for the fish were reduced dramatically. The loss of herring has increased the price of bait and made it harder for many fishermen to trap lobsters. However, losing herring has been offset somewhat by swelling catches of menhaden. Maine’s catch of menhaden, also called pogies or bunker, grew from about 6 million pounds in 2016 to more than 24 million pounds last year. >click to read< 11:28

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

Electronic Monitoring: Who Gets to Use Our Oceans?

Much of the current effort to create coordinated planning for use of our oceans started in 2010, when President Obama issued an executive order that called for the development of “coastal and marine spatial plans.” The idea is to figure out where to put things like aquaculture and wind farms without harming other things such as fisheries. In early August, the ASMFC announced that it’s considering a plan to require electronic tracking devices on federally permitted vessels that operate in American lobster and Jonah crab fisheries. Most of the lobster fishermen to be impacted are in Maine, and while they’ve expected the tracking plan to go into motion for some time now, Porter says, “there will be some seriously pissed-off lobstermen when this actually hits the ground.” >click to read< 09:21

Lobster Fishing Association Files Lawsuit Against NOAA Whale Plan

A lobster fishing group based in Maine filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Monday charging new rules designed to protect whales are not based on the best available science. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the rules, designed to protect North Atlantic right whales, in August.,, The Maine Lobstermen’s Association has pushed back against the rules,,, >click to read< 11:27

Rep. Sherm Hutchins – Maine’s lobster industry is under siege

Maine’s lobstermen and women are under attack by the Biden Administration after a recent set of rule changes restricting seasonal lobster fishing in 950 square miles of federal waters off Maine’s coast. This is an inflexible and poorly considered attempt to protect the North Atlantic right whale population. The series of rule changes are the most heavy-handed in a long line of attempts to undermine the lobster industry here in Maine. If our fisheries are not protected, and if these rules are not reversed, Maine’s fishermen and women will not recover. >click to read< 09:47

More siege from the non-productive slugs of the enviroscam movement – Zack Klyver, science director with the group Blue Planet Strategies, has a different view on the issue. I’m sympathetic to them and know that they work extremely hard,,, >click to read< 11:25

Lobster industry is anxious over upcoming North Atlantic right whale protection rules

The federal government is working on new rules designed to reduce risk to North Atlantic right whales,,, One of the threats the whales face is entanglement in ropes that connect to lobster and crab traps in the ocean. Early indications show that the changes required by the rules could be significant. They’re also vulnerable to ship strikes, and face the looming threat of warming oceans. Acting NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Paul Doremus said in June that the U.S. and Canada, which also harvests lobsters, must “take and sustain additional efforts to reduce right whale mortalities and serious injuries.” >click to read< 10:39

Fed Right whale plan could mean lobster industry changes – a reinvention of the fishery as we know it

Federal officials recently released plans,,, But it’s the risk reduction target, an aggressive 98 percent, that Maine Department of Marine Resources officials said means only one thing, “a complete reinvention of the fishery as we know it.” The conservation framework, an addition to the 582-page biological opinion, creates a four-phased approach to all but eliminate the death and serious injury of the whales in federally managed fishing grounds. The first phase calls for a 60 percent reduction in right whale deaths and serious injuries this year. Patrice McCarron, Maine Lobstermen’s Association, fears the industry can’t sustain that level of change.  “If you look at the changes we’ve made over the last 25 years, there’s not a lot left to give,”, >click to read< 10:27

Biological Opinion to Protect Right Whales Met With Opposition on All Sides

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released a key report called a Biological Opinion yesterday that calls for a 98 percent reduction in risk to North Atlantic right whales over the next 10 years. The goal is meant to be achieved over the course of four phases that correspond with increasingly tight restrictions on lobster and crab fisheries as well as other fixed-gear fisheries that use vertical buoy ropes. Vertical ropes attached to trap/pot gear is known to lethally entangle the whales. >click to read< 16:38

Well, hush my puppies! Georgia Con groups boycott New England Lobster Industry

Maine’s lobster industry is keeping a wary eye on a consumer boycott launched in the state of Georgia. Conservation groups there charge that New England’s lobster gear and trap-rope risk entangling and killing endangered right whales, and they say seafood lovers should choose other options. Alice Keyes, the coastal conservation director for an organization called 100 Miles, so-named for Georgia’s hundred-mile shoreline. The campaign is called “Eat Local, Not Lobster”. “I hope consumers are smarter than falling for these false campaigns,” says Patrice McCarron, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association executive director. >click to read< 09:25

Lobstermen say proposed Right Whale rules are expensive, dangerous, and based on outdated data

During the final public hearings, Maine Department of Marine Resource Commissioner Patrick Keliher echoed a statement put out by Gov. Janet Mills earlier that week stating that “a one-size-fits-all approach in the state of Maine will not work.” Fishermen and environmentalists voiced concerns over the science federal regulators were using to make decisions, including the number of right whales alive today, how many have been harmed by entanglements or struck by ships and the effectiveness of proposed gear changes.  “We all agree on one thing,” said Matt Gilley, a Harpswell lobsterman who spoke up at the virtual meeting. “That is that the data is flawed. In what direction, that remains to be seen.” >click to read< 11:10

The Maine Fishing community weighs in on offshore wind development

Maine’s fishing community is deeply concerned that wind development will end our fishing heritage, which has sustained coastal communities for centuries and is integral part of Maine’s identity. Without dedicated research proving otherwise, we are skeptical that offshore wind can deliver on its promise of affordable clean energy as promised by global energy companies. “The state of Maine should be wary of trading its fishing heritage by entering a race to fulfill empty promises from international energy companies,” warned Executive Director Patrice McCarron of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. Wise words from the Executive Director. >click to read< 11:30

Offshore wind project raises questions for lobstermen

A Gulf of Maine offshore wind power initiative Maine Governor Janet Mills rolled out late last year has raised concern in the lobster fishing community,,, Mills has said the Governor’s Energy Office should “work closely with Maine’s commercial fishing industry,,, The Maine Lobstermen’s Association agrees collaboration is necessary. Maine is also taking part in a federally led task force on offshore wind with New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Named the Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Regional, >click to read< 19:45

Lifejackets for Lobstermen Project works to get PFDs on every fisherman

From 2000-2016, the Centers for Disease Control charted 204 commercial fishing fatalities from falls overboard. None of the fishermen recovered were wearing a lifejacket, and 108 of the fishermen’s bodies were never found, according to a report of the Lifejacket Project, which was launched to identify solutions and increase fishermen’s interest in wearing lifejackets. In its recently published, 20-page summary report, the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing chronicles stories from the Lifejackets for Lobstermen Project and provides examples of the fishing community’s interest and engagement with the project. >click to read< 05:46

Despite an uncertain start to the fishery’s season, Maine lobster rolls on as the industry pivoted to new markets

Stonington lobster fisherman John Williams usually hauls his boat out in February for annual maintenance and paint in preparation for the start of the spring fishing season. “Then COVID started,”  The health emergency was worsening and the economy shutting down. That included one of the lobster industry’s biggest markets — restaurants. The large cruise ship and casino markets also slammed shut. International freight and shipping to China, emerging as a large consumer of lobster, had nearly stopped. “I got thinking about it and said, ‘This doesn’t look very good. We won’t have any market,’” Williams says. >click to read<  10:31

Maine lobster industry salvaged its summer despite pandemic

The Maine lobster industry is in the midst of a multiyear boom, and fishermen have caught more than 100 million pounds (45,360,000 kilograms) for a record nine years in a row. It’s hard to guess whether they’ll reach that total again, but summer 2020 hasn’t been half bad for a season in which many fishermen expected collapse, said Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. “Especially early in the season when nothing was open, no restaurants were open. We were thinking it would be a complete disaster,” Porter said. “If it stays like this, we can struggle through and have a season, and then get ready to fish next year.”>click to read< 17:03

This lobster season they expected hell, but got high water

Captain Nick Muto of Chatham, Massachusetts, expected this summer’s lobster fishing to be a disaster. With restaurant shutdowns and other supply chain issues, he was expecting to have to hustle hard to get good prices for his ocean delicacies. But he was pleasantly surprised. “I hate to say it out loud, but things are right now looking very good,” he said. Like many fishermen, Muto shifted to selling more lobsters directly into local markets, whether to restaurants or even right off the docks to consumers. Patrice McCannon, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said government relief programs like the CARES Act and Payment Protection Program have helped harvesters stay afloat. >click to read< 18:11

Federal judge gives NOAA time to craft new whale rules

A federal district court judge, in a decision issued late on Wednesday, Aug. 19, gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) nine more months to craft new rules to protect endangered right whales from entanglement in lobster fishing gear. Judge James E. Boasberg also denied a request by conservation organizations for an immediate ban on lobster fishing in a vast area of the ocean south of Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. >click to read< 09:45

For New England lobstermen, resilience in ‘a season of uncertainty’

This is a tough season so far for Ms. Rosen, but over her 15 years of lobstering off Vinalhaven, Maine, she’s always been a better fall fisherman, she says. This season is like no other – the lobsters are slow to appear, but more than that, the coronavirus has caused trade to plummet and tourists to stay home. Rosen is selling her lobster for $3.35 per pound – a dollar less than last year – and she’s torn between wanting to catch more and worrying about flooding the market by catching too much. To supplement, she picked up a job with UPS in the afternoons after fishing.  Ms. Rosen often fishes for her own bait rather than buying it.,, On Cape Cod, Glen Sveningson has been getting about $5.30 a pound wholesale, but it’s starting to fall. “Last year was one of the best years I’ve seen,” he says. >click to read< 13:17

Prime Lobster Season Is Here, but Mike Dawson Isn’t Celebrating.

Mike Dawson (self-employed) Location: New Harbor, Maine Employees: 1, Status: Open, essential industry. The lobsters have just started to “come on” for the 2020 season, which in the lexicon of a Maine lobsterman means the annual lobster migration and catch has begun for the summer. Normally,  that would signal a time for the state’s 5,000 lobster harvesters to spend all their time setting and hauling traps. Not this year. This season is marked by weak demand from restaurants across the country and seafood processors that are taking less meat during the coronavirus pandemic. International markets have slammed shut. As a result, lobster prices are weak.Some lobstermen are still sitting on the sidelines, collecting unemployment. Others, like Mike Dawson, who fishes off New Harbor, Maine, have diversified by catching pogeys, or bait fish, in addition to catching lobster. 16 photo’s, >click to read< 16:05

Northern Right Whales Are on the Brink, and Trump Could Be Their Last Hope

The task of responding will fall to an unlikely champion, President Trump, whose recent appeals for support from Maine lobstermen could clash with the task of saving the right whale. Peter Corkeron, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium who spent nearly a decade chronicling the gruesome deaths of right whales as the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s research program for large whales, said he feared the listing would have little impact. “Lobstermen certainly recognize the dire circumstance that the right whale species is in right now,” Patrice McCarron, “We’re in this awkward situation where right whales are not doing great, and it’s certainly not the fault of the commercial fisheries.”PEER also filed a complaint last year with the inspector general of the Commerce Department, which oversees NOAA, arguing that federal officials intent on reopening fishing areas have been ignoring their own scientists on climate change as well as other threats to whales. >click to read< 11:37

Coronavirus results in falling New England lobster prices

The American lobster fishing industry, based mostly in Maine, has had to cope with a supply chain that has been disrupted by the pandemic. Wholesale prices were lower than previous years this spring, and consumers started to see lower prices at markets earlier in June. Members of the industry said prices could likely fall more in July. America’s lobster catch typically picks up in the summer, when lobsters shed their shells and reach legal trapping size. This year, fishers will likely bring lobsters to the docks in a time when restaurants are slowed or shuttered and seafood processors aren’t taking nearly as many of the crustaceans, industry members said. >click to read< 08:25

Judge James Boasberg’s court ruling puts future of Maine lobster industry at risk

United States District Judge James Boasberg’s order found that the National Marine and Fishery Services violated the Endangered Species Act by licensing the lobster fishery. In the second phase of the case, the judge will decide what action is necessary to rectify the situation. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association, an intervenor, and other industry stakeholders around the Gulf of Maine, will submit information for the judge to consider in his ruling.,, Activist Richard Strahan filed a motion in federal court in Bangor to stop fishing in Maine May 15, citing violations of the Endangered Species Act, Maine Public reported. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has no intention of curtailing lobster permits, said spokesperson Jeff Nichols. >click to read< 09:45

“Prince of Whales” threatens lawsuit against Maine Lobstering Union members

Richard Max Strahan has threatened to sue the Maine Lobstering Union (MLU), the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) and their individual members for damages under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The statement was contained in papers Strahan filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Bangor in a lawsuit he began last year under the self-styled name “Man Against Xtinction.” Naming the commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources and the assistant administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as defendants, the suit asked the court to rule that the decision by NMFS to allow the Maine lobster fishery violates the law governing federal administrative procedures and, consequently, the federal Endangered Species Act. >click to read< 11:40

Court ruling threatens Maine’s lobster industry, MLA seeks donations to support its intervention in the case

Thousands of Maine’s family-owned lobstering businesses are at risk of extinction because of a recent federal court ruling citing a violation of the Endangered Species Act by the National Marine Fisheries Service. “The world’s most sustainable fishery could be shut down. And that is something that the Maine Lobstermen’s Association cannot let happen,” the association said in a press release today. “The MLA has launched a campaign to raise $500,000 to save Maine’s lobster industry,” Executive Director Patrice McCarron said in the release. The MLA is an intervenor in the court case and is the only organization in Maine that has been granted standing to participate in the case. >click to read< 15:20