Tag Archives: Department of Marine Resources

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

Maine: Scallop fishermen near end of season

The Maine scallop fishing season opened during the first week of December and now, with two weeks or less remaining, reports on how good a season it has been are decidedly mixed. On the good side of the ledger, there seemed to be plenty of scallops, often in places where none have been seen for years, Melissa Smith, who coordinates scallop management for the Department of Marine Resources, said last week. >click to read<11:16

Maine lobster catch dips to lowest level in 6 years in ’17

The state that dominates the U.S. lobster haul saw the catch fall to its lowest level since 2011 last year, yet the industry is still strong and the crustaceans remain easily available to consumers, regulators said Friday. Maine fishermen caught a little more than 110.8 million pounds (50.3 million kilograms) of lobster last year, following a stretch of five consecutive years in which the state topped 120 million pounds (54 million kilograms) annually, the state Department of Marine Resources announced. Fishermen in Maine, who typically catch about 80 percent of America’s lobster, also made slightly less money. >click to read< 09:57

Benchmark study of lobsters begins

In 2015, data collected in a benchmark assessment of New England lobster stocks showed record-high abundance for the combined stocks of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank and record lows for the lobster stock of southern New England. Now, about three years later, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is beginning preparations for the next American lobster benchmark assessment that is expected to be completed around March 2020. “We’re in the very early stages right now,” said Jeff Kipp, senior stock assessment scientist at the Arlington, Virginia-based ASMFC that regulates the Northeast lobster fishery. “The process will be mostly data-driven.” >click to read< 21:10

Lobstermen speak out against proposal to have Maine’s entire fleet report data

Maine doesn’t require all of its lobstermen to share their fishing data, and they say reporting even 10 percent of the country’s largest lobster fishery is enough to give state and federal regulators statistically valid data. That’s the argument advanced by lobstermen, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the state Department of Marine Resources against a proposal for 100 percent reporting, at a hearing held Wednesday by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. >click here to read< 11:09

Lobstermen alarmed at prospect of sharing their secrets with regulators

For generations, Maine lobstermen have fiercely guarded their fishing secrets, telling almost no one how and where they fish or how much they haul up in their traps. But under a new proposal, these independent operators would have to share all the nitty-gritty details with regulators, like where they fish, how long they let their traps soak, the kind of gear they use and how deep they set it, and how much lobster they land. click here to read the story 08:35

Maine: Bills to address commercial license glitches

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marine Resources will meet next Wednesday for hearings on three bills aimed at fine-tuning the state’s commercial fishing license system. One bill, LD1652, would allow the Department of Marine Resources to set up a limited entry system for shrimp fishermen in any year when the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission sets the state’s northern shrimp landings allocation at less than 2,000 metric tons. Currently there is a moratorium on shrimp fishing in the Gulf of Maine.,,, The two other bills are more technical. click here to read the story 11:24

DMR extends search for shrimp boat for 2018 Northern Shrimp Cooperative Winter Sampling program

The Department of Marine Resources extended the deadline and sweetened the deal in the hope of attracting applications to participate in its 2018 Northern Shrimp Cooperative Winter Sampling program. DMR was offering up to $2,500 in pay for a shrimp trawler to collect shrimp samples off the Midcoast, starting about Jan. 29. The purpose of the program is solely to collect scientific samples for DMR. No shrimp may be kept or sold. Last week, DMR announced that it was upping the ante to $3,450 in an effort to attract some interest and extended the deadline to Wednesday, Jan. 3. click here to read the story 11:55

Maine: Keliher calls special meeting to discuss trawl limit proposal

When members of a lobster management council here voted last month to change the maximum allowed number of traps on a trawl in part of the territory they represent, they thought they were off and running and a public hearing for a new Department of Marine Resources proposed rule reflecting the change would be scheduled soon. They learned different at a special Zone B Council meeting Dec. 20 at Mount Desert Island High School called by DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher to discuss the issue. click here to read the story 10:58 

Maine lobster council to keep funding marketing effort despite critics

Despite grumbling from lobster dealers, the state Lobster Advisory Council voted unanimously Thursday to continue funding the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. The collaborative is about to begin the final year of its five-year mission to promote the state’s signature product. It wants the Legislature to renew its authorization, and its $2.2 million a year budget funded by surcharges on state-issued lobster licenses. But it needs the support of the people that its work is serving – the individual lobster zone councils and the Lobster Advisory Council that oversees it all. click here to read the story 13:29

Maine coastal town’s leaders vote to oppose offshore wind project

The St. George Select Board voted Monday to oppose an offshore wind project taking shape about 12 miles away, standing with local fishermen who say the project and its transmission cable would harm their livelihoods. The unanimous vote follows a recommendation made by an advisory committee created last month by the five-person Select Board to weigh the impact the Maine Aqua Ventus offshore wind project would have on the local community. “I think it’s a good idea we sever ourselves from [Maine Aqua Ventus] and that we support the fishermen in any way we can,” Select Board member Randy Elwell said Monday. click here to read the story 21:39

Maine: Scallop license lottery moves forward

More scalloping or more scallopers? That’s the question the Department of Marine Resources is facing with a proposed rule that would establish a lottery system for new scallop fishing licenses. Under a plan announced last week, DMR would issue annually two new scallop dragging licenses for every three surrendered. The department would also issue one new diving license for each one not renewed. click here to read the story 16:31

Maine Elver lottery gets under way Wednesday

For the first time in more than four years, a few new Maine residents will get a chance to participate in the elver fishery. On Wednesday, the Department of Marine Resources will open a lottery for at least seven new licenses to be issued for the 2018 elver fishery. The season begins on March 22. Each new license holder will be allotted a minimum of 4 pounds of the state’s aggregate elver quota. Based on the average price for the 2017 season that ended in June, that would be worth some $6,000. click here to read the story, details, and good luck! 17:18

Planned license lottery draws fire at scallop hearing

One look at the audience at a Department of Marine Resources hearing on new scallop fishing rules last week made it clear that the fishery is getting older. By a good margin, most of the three dozen or so scallop harvesters at Ellsworth City Hall last Wednesday evening had faces lined by years on the water and beards long gone gray.,,  In 2009, the Legislature passed a moratorium on new scallop licenses. It also ordered DMR to come up with a lottery system to allow new entrants into a fishery that Brooklin scallop dragger David Tarr describes as a “club. click here to read the story 12:12

Maine: Penalties for lobster fishing violations stiffened

Harsher penalties for fishing law violators went into effect last month after aspects of state Sen. Brian Langley’s (R-Hancock County) bill aimed at curbing violations was adopted as emergency legislation by the Maine Legislature. LD 575, An Act to Improve the Enforcement of Maine’s Lobster Laws, was adopted after the Senate voted 32-1 in favor of the changes on June 14. The new law sets minimum punishments for violations such as scrubbing lobsters, fishing over the trap limit, fishing “sunken trawls” (unmarked by a surface buoy) or untagged gear and molesting lobster traps. The bill also allows the Department of Marine Resources commissioner to revoke the license of anyone found guilty of sinking, burning or destroying another fisherman’s vessel. click here to read the story 14:34

Fishermen, regulators disagree over cause of Brunswick fish kill

As a massive vacuum truck from Clean Harbors traveled along the shoreline near Simpsons Point midweek to clean up rotting pogies, local fishermen were battling what they say was a raft of misinformation put forth by the state about how and why those pogies were dumped from a local fishing vessel on June 6. On Tuesday, a day after residents of the Simpsons Point area asked town councilors to help pay for a professional cleanup of the fish, local lobsterman Steve Anderson posted a 10-minute video on YouTube, taking local media to task for only reporting part of the story and excoriating the Maine Department of Marine Resources for a quota system Anderson said simply doesn’t work.,,, But Jeff Nichols, spokesman for the DMR, said Friday that Anderson “got a lot of things wrong,” click here to read the story 08:35

Brunswick Maine fish kill. The Real Story, not that Fake News stuff.click here to watch the video

Hearing on new shrimp rules draws tiny crowd in Ellsworth

Fishermen barely outnumbered representatives of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last Thursday at a public hearing in City Hall on proposed rule changes that would reshape shrimp fishing in the Gulf of Maine. Three fishermen — John Williams and Ricky Trundy, both of Stonington, and James West of Sorrento — offered comments on a proposed amendment to the ASMFC fisheries management plan for northern shrimp. Department of Marine Resources External Affairs Director Terry Stockwell and Resource Management Coordinator Trisha Cheney dutifully recorded those comments on behalf of the ASMFC. Although a somewhat larger crowd was on hand for a hearing the previous evening in Augusta, the sparse audience reflected the state of the fishery from Downeast waters.  click here to read the story 12:34

Controversial bill allowing secret tracking devices on lobster boats wins Maine Senate approval

A compromise has been reached over a controversial bill that would allow the Department of Marine Resources to secretly place tracking devices on lobster boats. The measure is aimed at cracking down on violators of lobstering laws. The Maine Lobstermen’s Union had been strongly opposed to the bill, saying it gave the commissioner too much authority by allowing him to covertly track boats. But after a discussion with the commissioner this morning the union now backs the bill. “So we have a lot more people fishing offshore, much more difficult to catch violators offshore,” said Patrice McCarron of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. McCarron said if allowing investigators to covertly place tracking devices on boats of suspected cheaters leads to more arrests, the industry will be better off. Video, click here to read the story 11:30

Maine Lobstermen Support GPS Tracking of Lawbreakers Fishing Vessels – Lobstermen from Swans Island are fed up with the bad behavior of fellow fishermen who violate regulations within the states most valuable fishery.  Video, click here to read the story 12:02

Limited-entry waiting list shortens

Fishermen on the Zone B commercial lobster and crab license waiting list have been bumped up several slots following last year’s council decision to amend the exit ratio for its limited-entry system. The Lobster Zone B Management Council heard that good news last Tuesday during a regular council meeting. Council members last year amended the exit ratio from one license issued for every five licenses retired to one license issued for every three licenses retired to help speed up the licensing process. Zone B is one of the most restrictive zones. Some people have been on the list for more than 10 years. Currently, there are 37 names on the list. click here to read the story 13:05

Can scallops be farmed in Penobscot Bay?

Everybody knows that the waters off Stonington are a rich source of wild scallops. Could they also be a good place to farm them? Robert Brewer of Deer Isle hopes to find out. Brewer recently applied to the for a 3.8-acre experimental aquaculture lease in East Penobscot Bay, where he plans to grow scallops on suspended ropes using the ear-hanging method developed in Japan. The technique calls for drilling a tiny hole through the flat “ear” at the base of the scallop shell and inserting a plastic pin with a small line attached. The scallops are hung in pairs along ropes called “droppers” that hang vertically beneath the surface.,,, DMR has opened a 30-day comment period for Brewer’s application. Click here to read the story 13:12

Maine – Fishing surveillance bill amended

A bill that would authorize the Department of Marine Resources to conduct surreptitious electronic surveillance of lobster boats drew mixed reviews at a hearing by the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee in April. But at a work session last Wednesday, the committee voted to recommend passage of an amended version of the bill. Introduced by Rep. Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle) at the request of the Department of Marine Resources, LD 1379 — as initially formulated — would have given the DMR commissioner authority to approve installation of electronic tracking devices on lobster boats without first getting a warrant from a judge. The approval would have been based on an affidavit from the chief of the Marine Patrol that he had “probable cause” to believe that a civil violation of the laws regulating the placement or hauling of lobster gear had occurred. At its work session last week, the committee scrapped the idea of authorizing the commissioner to approve installation of tracking devices and took a new approach. click here to read the story 11:53

Lobster buyer gets his license yanked

A hearing examiner has upheld the one-year suspension of the license of a lobster buyer accused of failing to report a portion of the purchases made off a barge based in Seal Cove in Tremont. In August, Maine Marine Patrol officers summonsed Donald Crabtree Sr. of Crabtree Seafood in Brewer on a charge of violating the Department of Marine Resources’ (DMR) reporting requirements, a civil violation. Crabtree appealed his suspension. A hearing examiner last week determined that the suspension is justified, according to Sgt. Troy Dow of the marine patrol. Crabtree began using the town-owned Seal Cove Wharf as a base for his lobster business in the spring of 2015. He was mooring his 45-foot barge there and used the facility’s ramp to load bait before motoring into Blue Hill Bay to sell bait to fishermen and buy lobsters from them. The day’s catch later was offloaded at the ramp. click here to read the story 11:16

Trying to make a living

As soon as Old Man Winter indicates he’s loosening his grip on the Maine coast and spring is finally in the air, lobstermen will begin to rig their traps in preparation for the upcoming fishing season. One of their prime concerns this year, as in any year, will be questions about bait supplies and costs. Like other businessmen, how much money lobstermen take home at the end of the day, and what their annual profits will be, depends upon their costs and the price per pound their lobsters bring at the dock. In addition to any boat payments they may have, and for some fishermen with newer boats, these are high, they’ll be eyeing current fuel and bait costs.,, continue reading the op-ed here 10:32

Potential coral protection rules could have big impact on Downeast lobstermen

The New England Fishery Management Council has put rules to protect deep sea corals on the fast track, rules that will have a major impact on lobstermen — primarily from zones A and B with some from Zone C — who set their gear around Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge. The council is considering management measures to reduce impacts to corals from commercial fishing activities in three areas in the Gulf of Maine. One of the proposals would impose a total ban on fishing in the protected areas which, according to an analysis the Department of Marine Resources submitted to the council several months ago, are located in waters that produce about one-third of Maine’s lobster landings in terms of value. Now DMR is asking lobstermen who fish in the potentially closed areas for information that will help the department in its efforts to prevent the fishing bans. continue reading the article here 08:38

Maine’s Scallop season off to a good start

Five weeks into the scallop season the winter weather has begun to take a toll on fishing days, but not on landings. According to the Department of Marine Resources, when fishermen have been able to get off the mooring they have been seeing good landing. With snow, bitter temperatures and howling winds increasingly the norm since the last week of December, scallopers working outside the well-protected waters of Cobscook Bay got a break — or at least a chance for some relief — when several limited access areas opened to fishing on Monday, Jan. 2. While four segments of the coast were closed to fishing on New Year’s Day after their harvest targets were reached, the opening of the limited access areas gave an additional opportunity to the drag fleet in more protected waters once a week. So far, boat prices remain strong, and have even strengthened since the season’s opening. Read the story here  08:03

Are Maine halibut headed for trouble?

Go to Scales, an elegant waterfront restaurant on a Portland pier, and a plate of pan-roasted halibut with hazelnuts, brown butter and new potatoes will cost you $38, tax and tip extra. Go down to the dock in Lubec or Stonington during May and June, when Maine fishermen are allowed to harvest halibut from state waters inside the three-mile limit, and $38 would buy you about 5 pounds of halibut, if you could buy less than a whole fish directly off the boat. And that’s the problem. Over the decade between 2006 and 2015, the last year for which the Department of Marine Resources has figures, the boat price for halibut increased some 44 percent and landings increased from just 30,018 pounds worth about $139,000 to more than 93,000 pounds that brought fishermen some $623,000. Now federal fisheries regulators are saying that halibut may be in trouble. Read the story here 12:14