Tag Archives: Department of Marine Resources

Zone C lobster council OK’s trawl limit plan for new whale protection rules

Zone C Lobster Management Council held a special meeting on the internet in late September to get an update on the situation from Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher and consider a zone-specific plan for gear modifications that will likely be required by NMFS. On Aug. 19, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg gave NMFS nine months to craft new rules to protect endangered right whales from entanglement,,, DMR asked the state’s seven Lobster Zone Management Councils to come up with zone-specific proposals,,, Last week, the Zone C council met to consider the recommendations of its working group. >click to read< 16:07

Max Strahan driven by “duty” to have stricter measures adopted

To many federal and state fisheries managers, and to most people in the lobster industry, the name Max Strahan conjures images of a fanatic determined to put an end to lobster fishing in the name of saving endangered right whales from extinction. (he is), “I’m a scientist and a very ethical and moral person,” (he’s not) Strahan said, claiming that, of 330 million U.S. citizens, he was the only one to file individual suits under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).,, Strahan said he grew up on a farm “somewhere around the area” of New Hampshire and, as a young man, was interested in outdoor activities such as hiking and rock climbing. That led to his interest in wildlife preservation and eventually his efforts to save the endangered spotted owl in the forests of California and Oregon. Strahan filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the birds under the ESA and ultimately the petition was accepted, the owls listed and much of the Pacific timber industry put out of business. >click to read< 09:39

CARES Act: Lobstermen may get up to $50 million in pandemic relief funds

Whatever the relationship between China and the United States  particularly the lobster industry — may be, Maine lobstermen are certainly living in interesting times. Last week, a scant two months before the upcoming presidential election, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it  would soon release some $530 million appropriated by Congress last March under the CARES Act to assist the U.S. seafood industry and fishermen damaged by retaliatory tariffs. Those tariffs have been imposed primarily by China and the European Union on imports of U.S. live and processed seafood.  >click to read< 16:58

Maine: Lobster boat sinks after hitting a ledge in Naskeag Harbor, Captain taken to hospital

A 36-foot lobster boat, Turn the Page, sank off Naskeag Point on the sunny, breezy afternoon of August 26, according to a Department of Marine Resources statement. The vessel, captained by 45-year-old Carl Gray of Sedgwick, hit a ledge in Naskeag Harbor, according to the statement. The boat continued on until it eventually ran aground near the boat launch around 1:30 p.m., DMR said. That was two hours after low tide,,, One fisherman took Gray to the hospital, while other fishermen managed to tie the Turn the Page to the public pier at Naskeag Point. >photo gallery, click to read< 12:42

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

“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

Maine: Elver price plummets; lobster industry seeks help

Earning a living as a fisherman is tough in the best of times. Right now, times are bad and Maine fishermen have to hope they don’t get any worse.
Last year, according to the Department of Marine Resources, Maine harvesters landed 9,620 pounds of elvers, juvenile eels, and dealers paid $20,119,194 for the catch, an average price of $2,091 per pound for the fishermen. Things are markedly different in this year of the coronavirus pandemic.,, Like elver harvesters, members of Maine’s lobster industry have experienced an extraordinary disruption of their fishery. Most lobsters are consumed in restaurants or other commercial settings,,, >click to read< 16:30

Ruling in whale case signals turmoil for lobster industry

It is too early to know exactly how the ruling in a lawsuit brought by a group of environmental organizations will affect the lobster industry. U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg asked those groups and NOAA to file briefs suggesting an appropriate “injunctive remedy” against further violations of the Endangered Species Act. Whatever that remedy may be, it is likely to come soon and have a significant impact on Maine lobstermen. During the past several months, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher hosted a series of meetings along the coast with members of the lobster industry,, Throughout the process, Keliher warned that the pending federal lawsuit against NOAA was a “wild card” that could affect the regulatory process in undetermined ways. Last week, Keliher said that with the release of the court’s decision the wild card had been played. >click to read< 17:51

Maine will create a commercial menhaden fishing license in 2021, won’t close growing bait fishery as previously planned.

Stories of those who had hoped to jump into menhaden fishing, and pleas from lobstermen in search of affordable bait, persuaded state lawmakers to keep the menhaden fishery open while the state works out details of its proposed licensing system.,, A legislative committee voted in favor of the Department of Marine Resources’ menhaden licensing bill, but only after deleting a section of the bill that would have set a “control date” for the menhaden fishery. A control date is a cutoff date that can be used to decide who is eligible to fish. >click to read< 11:08

Elver Lottery to Allow New Entrants into Maine’s Lucrative Elver Fishery

Nine Maine residents will soon have a chance to join the state’s lucrative elver fishery. The Department of Marine Resources will hold a lottery, starting at noon Thursday, January 16, for the right to apply for an elver license. The lottery will be available through 4:30 pm February 21, providing lottery winners the chance to apply for a license prior to the upcoming season, which starts March 22 and runs through June 7. >click to read, details, links< 16:18

Maine Seeks to Aid Lobstermen as Federal Whale Protections Loom

On Friday, the state’s Department of Marine Resources released a plan it says protects the endangered whales and lobstermen, whom the feds say need to do more to prevent traps and lines from killing the whale. Maine’s suggestions include having lobstermen use ropes with weak points the whales could easily break and calls for a 25% reduction in the amount of vertical trap lines. >click to read< 08:29

Maine Plan Aims To Reduce Lobstering Impact On Right Whales – The Maine Department of Marine Resources tweaked its October proposal to balance the needs of lobstermen while protecting the whales,,, >click to read< 09:32

A sternman’s thoughts on aquaculture

Are there any other industries in Maine that are allowed to grow with no set limits? Right now, aquaculture leasing is designed this way. There is no cap on the number of leases that the state can issue. The number of aquaculture applications has increased ten-fold over the last ten years, and the Department of Marine Resources has approved 99% of these marine applications. The current regulations will lead to the unsustainable growth of a new industry which is untested along our coast. As a sternman in Martinsville, the people I fish alongside have strict limits. By Kelsey Fenwick >click to read< 10:35

Also read, Issues on the water: licenses, leasing, and aquaculture – William Oliver, South Thomaston, same page.

Scallop season is underway

The scallop fishing season got underway in eastern Maine earlier this month and is already making news. In the waters between eastern Penobscot Bay and Cobscook Bay, the season for the handful of licensed scallop divers began Nov. 18 but the draggers couldn’t go to work until Dec. 2. In Cobscook Bay, the season for draggers also began Dec. 2 but divers had to wait until Dec. 5 to brave the chilly, turbulent waters way Downeast. >click to read< 20:14

Maine Lobstermen Skeptical Of Proposal To Tie ‘Whale-Safe’ Seafood Label To Use Of New Fishing Gear. They should be.

A movement is emerging among conservation groups to create a “whale-safe” seal of approval for lobster caught with new types of gear designed to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales. But it could be a tough sell in Maine, where some say the iconic fishery is already sustainable.,, “That’s really important, that fishermen willing to test this gear, and certainly those fishermen fishing with ropeless gear should be rewarded,” says Erica Fuller, a lawyer at the Conservation Law Foundation, one of several organizations suing the federal government for stronger protections of the roughly 400 North Atlantic right whales remaining on the planet. >click to read< 10:36

Gary Robinson of Warren, has passed away

Gary Robinson of Warren passed away Nov. 6 at the Sussman House in Rockport just a week shy of his 80th birthday.,, Gary graduated from local schools and was later trained in computer programming. He worked for more than 40 years as a Marine Specialist for the State of Maine Lobster Project at the Department of Marine Resources in Boothbay Harbor. He enjoyed traveling up and down the Maine coast interviewing lobster fishermen and gathering data for his computer analysis. >click to read< 09:07

Lobstermen’s Association rejects DMR whale proposal

Efforts to find consensus over how to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from entanglement in fishing gear without decimating the Maine lobster industry took a blow last week. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) announced that it would not support a plan developed by the Department of Marine Resources “because it seeks reductions that exceed the documented risk posed by the Maine lobster fishery” and “creates unresolved safety and operational challenges for some sectors of the lobster industry,”,,, >click to read< 10:43

Second Maine lobstering group rejects state’s plan for protecting whales

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association staked out its position on the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ proposal with a board vote Thursday night. Director Patrice McCarron would not disclose the vote breakdown, calling that a private matter. The group did, however, release a statement about why it couldn’t support the plan. “It seeks reductions that exceed the documented risk posed by the Maine lobster fishery,” >click to read< 06:16

Lobster industry split over whale protection plan called Maine’s ‘line in the sand’

Some fishermen at the South Portland meeting cheered the plan. One gave Keliher a standing ovation, saying the new proposal was much better for the lobster fleet than the task force plan rolled out in August that called for 50 percent fewer buoy lines. But fishermen in Ellsworth and Waldoboro, the site of the first two meetings this week, urged Keliher to resist federal pressure to make concessions that would hurt lobster fishermen when they pose no real threat to the whale.,, “Grow a backbone,” one lobstermen told Keliher. “Don’t give them anything now.” >click to read<  07:47

DMR’s answer to whale rules focus offshore

Last week, DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher announced that after “rigorous scientific analysis,” the department had come up with a new draft plan to address “both the risk to right whales and concerns of fishermen” that is “in keeping with the real risk the Maine fishery presents.” Last March, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that the risk of injuries to right whales in the Gulf of Maine had to be reduced by at least 60 percent. Last March, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that the risk of injuries to right whales in the Gulf of Maine had to be reduced by at least 60 percent.,,, The rule also would extend electronic vessel monitoring now required on boats that hold permits to fish for species other than lobster in federal waters to all federally permitted lobster boats. >click to read< 11:27

Opinion: Maine’s plan for lobster lines an improvement

A federal proposal to cut fishing lines off the Maine coast was dead in the water to lobstermen, who said it would put either their lives or ability to make a living at risk.,,, The federal proposal, released this summer, called on Maine to reduce the number of surface-to-seabed buoy lines by 50 percent in both state waters, which run out to three miles from shore, and federal waters,,,  lobstermen were right to be wary of the proposal. And since industry buy-in is necessary to make any plan work, the state was right to put forward its own proposal. >click to read< 16:33

Maine DMR to hold two lotteries for scallop licenses

The Department of Marine Resources announced last Friday that it was opening two lotteries for scallop fishing licenses for the upcoming 2019-20 fishing season. One of the lotteries will be for scallop drag licenses, while the other will be for scallop dive licenses. Based on the number of licenses retired in 2018, DMR has determined that six scallop drag licenses and four scallop dive licenses will be available for the 2019-20 season. Both lotteries will remain open until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8. >click to read< 08:52

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