Tag Archives: Maine Department of Marine Resources

Elver fishermen push for higher quota, say resource isn’t endangered

Despite the abrupt end to the elver season last month due to poaching, elver fishermen continue to support an increase in Maine’s annual catch limit. The Bangor Daily News reported that more than 60 elver fishermen appeared at a hearing held Wednesday by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission — the interstate body that oversees the eel and elver fishery, among others — to consider whether to raise the quota from 9,688 pounds to 11,749 pounds. >click to read<13:47

Illegal fishing drives early shutdown of elver fishery

The Department of Marine Resources announced Wednesday afternoon that it will shut down the elver fishery two weeks early “because of illegal sales which jeopardize the department’s ability to manage the fishery.” The department will use its emergency rulemaking authority to close the season. The elver fishing season will close at 6 a.m. on Thursday, May 24. The season was scheduled to end at noon on Thursday, June 7. Under the regulation, licensed harvesters may not fish for or take elvers after 6 a.m. on May 24, but may possess and sell elvers until noon on that day. Licensed dealers may purchase elvers until noon on May 24, and may possess legally purchased elvers until 6 a.m. on May 29. >click to read<08:34

Maine: New halibut rules aim to keep fishery open

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has reminded harvesters with an Atlantic halibut endorsement of new state regulations designed to keep the state compliant with federal rules. The new state rules, enacted in April as emergency regulations and scheduled to become permanent in June, are designed to prevent state licensed harvesters from exceeding the allowable catch limit in state waters and contributing to an overage for the combined state and federal fishery. >click to read<10:26

With 3 weeks to go in season, Maine’s baby eel harvest tops $20M

The value of landings so far in Maine’s 2018 baby eel fishing season have topped $20 million, the fishery’s highest annual value since the state adopted a statewide catch limit in 2014. Record prices this season of around $2,500 per pound for baby eels, also known as elvers, already have made the 2018 season the third-most valuable ever in Maine. Over the past four years, the highest annual landings total for the state’s baby eel fishery, which lasts from late March through early June, is $13.4 million in 2016. According to Maine Department of Marine Resources, as of Wednesday evening fishermen had caught 8,416 pounds, or 87 percent of Maine’s annual catch limit of 9,688 pounds. >click to read<12:44

Lobster shell disease nudges up slightly off of Maine

A disease that disfigures lobsters has ticked up slightly in Maine in the last couple of years, but authorities and scientists say it’s not time to sound the alarm. The disease, often called epizootic shell disease, is a bacterial infection that makes lobsters impossible to sell as food, eating away at their shells and sometimes killing them. The Maine Department of Marine Resources said researchers found the disease in about 1 percent of lobsters last year. >click to read<16:41

Elver run looks good, prices up over last year

Since the start of the elver season on March 22, the spring run has been picking up and landings are looking good. The Ellsworth American reported that dealers paid an average price of $2,747 per pound the first week of the harvest for elvers, which are bought by eel farmers in Asia. Elvers are by far Maine’s most valuable fishery per pound, but the catch is limited by a quota, so in terms of sales revenues it’s one of the least valuable in the state. According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, elver landings among non-native harvesters reported as of 6 p.m. on April 7 totaled 581.7 pounds out of an overall quota of 7,566.3 pounds. >click to read<15:29

Price offered for Maine’s baby eels hits record high

Strong demand for baby eels from Maine, spurred by poor winter harvests elsewhere around the globe, has driven prices in the opening days of the state’s annual fishing season to unprecedented heights. The average price offered to fishermen for their baby eels, also known as elvers, since the season began at noon last Thursday is between $2,700 and $2,800 per pound, according to Maine Department of Marine Resources. That’s the highest average price range ever reported by the state agency and more than double the $1,302 per pound that Maine fishermen averaged over the course of the 2017 season. >click to read<09:07

Our View: Time for Maine to look past lobster boom years

There is an economic principle that’s usually attributed to Herbert Stein, who worked for the Nixon administration and The Wall Street Journal. Stein’s law: If something can’t keep going forever, it won’t. Maine’s lobster industry is near the peak of a historic boom, making it the state’s most lucrative fishery. In the last 30 years, lobster landings have increased from 20 million pounds a year to 130 million. No one expects the catch to keep growing forever. The question is not whether it will decline, but when. >click to read< 13:57

Gulf of Maine had cool year in 2017, but is still warming – >click to read<

State disputes study that predicts sharp decline in Gulf of Maine lobster population

The state agency that oversees Maine’s marine fisheries is questioning the reliability of a new study that predicts a sharp decline in Gulf of Maine lobsters over the next 30 years. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the University of Maine and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration built a computer model that predicts the population will fall 40 to 62 percent by 2030. But Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, won’t be using the model to help him decide how to manage the state’s most valuable fishery,,, >click here to read< 01:06 

Hitting the Elver License Lottery! Handful of lucky Mainers win right to apply for lucrative elver licenses

In the first lottery since 2013 in the lucrative elver fishery, the Maine Department of Marine Resources awarded the right to apply for an elver license to 11 Mainers. 3,136 people applied for the licenses. The lottery, authorized during the past legislative session, was available to Maine residents who are at least 15 years of age by the start of the 2018 season, and who are eligible to purchase an elver license in 2018 because they have not had their right to obtain an elver license suspended. >click here to read< 12:40 

Maine Department of Marine Resources Launches Online Elver License Lottery Application

Maine’s Department of Marine Resources is pleased to announce the launch of the online Elver License Lottery application, which is available to residents of Maine. Available at www.maine.gov/elverlottery, the system allows applicants to submit their name for a chance to win an elver license. The online application was created by the Department of Marine Resources, in partnership with the state’s digital government portal provider, InforME. The rising market prices of these young eels have gained the attention of existing commercial fisherman and anyone interested in applying for these coveted licenses. >click here to read<09:29

Body of Paul Brenner who went missing during blizzard found

The body of Paul Benner, who went missing Thursday while clamming, has been found according to Marine Resources who has been spearheading the search. Benner’s body was found in Long Cove by Marine Patrol Officers using side scan sonar. The body was recovered using a dive team and will be taken to the Medical Examiner’s office.  click here to read the story 16:47

Maine To Set Up New Collaborative To Research Lobster Fishery

Maine’s Department of Marine Resources is launching a half-million-dollar project to get a more comprehensive scientific assessment of one of the state’s most valuable resources — lobster. The new Maine Lobster Research Collaborative will focus on the lobster fishery’s biological, physical and social dynamics, as the request for proposals puts it. DMR spokesman Jeff Nichols notes that while lobster populations in southern New England crashed this decade, Maine’s landings soared to record levels. Yet there is little research to show whether that can be directly linked to Maine’s management policies. click here to read the story 10:21

Marketing effort gets council nod

Old frustrations between lobstermen and dealers have been stirred by the debate about whether to renew a lobster marketing effort, but fishermen here decided they support continuing the marketing project. The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC), launched by the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) after a 2012 price crash, is set to sunset next year unless the Legislature acts to renew the program. The DMR Lobster Zone B council, meeting last week in the Mount Desert Island High School library, voted to support renewing the marketing program. click here to read the story 09:13

Marine resources commissioner opposes task force to study addiction in fishing industry

The head of the Maine Department of Marine Resources has come out against a proposed bill to study the high rate of addiction in commercial fishing. Patrick Keliher said a task force bill that will be introduced by Rep. Mick Devin, a Newcastle marine biologist who sits on the committee that oversees Keliher’s agency, focuses too narrowly on one industry. Keliher acknowledges the commercial fishing industry has a drug addiction problem, but no more so than any other line of work. Addiction is an issue that transcends the fishing industry, he said. click here to read the story 08:05

Maine: Scallop farm first of its kind in local waters

Just about one year after father-and-son fishermen Marsden and Bob Brewer returned from Japan, where they learned new scallop-farming techniques firsthand, Bob Brewer was granted a 3.23 acre experimental aquaculture lease southwest of Andrews Island. It is the first scallop farm of its kind in Penobscot Bay. The Brewers can grow up to 200,000 Atlantic sea scallops using lantern nets, where mesh nets, each 10 floors deep, hang from a 600-foot longline.  “It’s a big circular tube with floors,” Bob Brewer said. “They’re used in Japan. That’s where we learned how to do it.” click here to read the story 10:42

Maine lobster landings, price draw concern

Fishermen have reported catching far fewer lobsters this season than last year’s record-setting numbers. But the scarcity does not seem to have translated into much upward pressure on prices. While harvesters and dealers hold boat price information close to the vest, unofficial reports indicate that boat prices have actually dropped to $2.50 per pound or worse.,, Islesford lobsterman Bruce Fernald, part of the Cranberry Isles Fishermen’s Co-Op, said his catch is down about 20 percent this year. click here to read the story 09:19

Make way for Maine-New Hampshire trawl survey!

The fall groundfish trawl survey conducted by the state of Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) is scheduled to begin Oct. 2 in New Hampshire, working east to Lubec. Ahead of the survey, the DMR hopes to move lobster traps and other gear within the area that will be surveyed. The Maine-New Hampshire trawl survey provides valuable information for the management of important commercially harvested species. Not completing all of the proposed tows could jeopardize the use of DMR data for state and federal lobster and finfish management. click here to read the story and contact info 11:36

Inside the Multi-million-Dollar World of Eel Trafficking

The alleged kingpin of one of the biggest domestic wildlife smuggling operations ever to hit the East Coast is exactly where you’d expect to find him on a rainy evening in early May: firmly planted in a swivel chair at a big green metal desk inside his renovated Quonset hut on Foster Street, in Ellsworth, Maine. At this post Bill Sheldon waits day and night for fishermen to come and fill his bowl with writhing masses of baby eels. The 72-year-old fisherman wears glasses, a blue flannel shirt, jeans, duck boots, and a brown L.L. Bean baseball cap. His cell phone goes quack, quack, quack when it rings. The sign above his head reads, “Buying Glass Eels Here,” with the day’s market price: $1,250 per pound. (so much more about the fishery in this article than “trafficking”) click here to read the story 09:26

Maine Lobstermen Say They Aren’t Harming Threatened Coral Beds

The fragile deep-sea corals that populate the canyon walls and basins in the Gulf of Maine provide habitat for many species of fish as well as baby lobster, crabs and squid. But the New England Fisheries Management Council has concluded that the northeast coral beds are threatened when they are disturbed by commercial fishing operations and is weighing new restrictions that could affect Maine.  The council held a public hearing in Ellsworth Thursday night, where lobstermen spoke in support of a plan that protects coral colonies while still allowing them to haul their traps.  Most of the lobstermen who spoke agree that the coral beds in the Gulf of Maine play an important role in the overall health of the marine ecosystem. And most, such as Cranberry Isles fisherman Jack Merrill, think that Maine lobstermen and the coral beds have been getting along well for decades. Click here to read the story 18:21

Maine lobstermen worry about possible closure to protect coral

Charles Kelley began fishing for lobster on Outer Schoodic Ridge about 20 years ago, preferring the solitude of deep waters to the crowded inshore fishery.,, Kelley is worried that he could lose his winter fishing territory if interstate regulators decide to ban all fishing in a 31-square-mile area at the ridge and an 18-square-mile area southwest of Mount Desert Rock to protect deep-water coral gardens found in those waters.,,, Some environmental groups have banded together to oppose the lobster exemption, among other aspects of the proposal, including the Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana and The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Heavy offshore trap gear … poses a threat to long-lived and vulnerable deep-sea coral communities,” they wrote in an April 11 letter. “Trap fisheries directly damage corals.” Click here to read the story 07:58

Massachusetts man nabbed with $21,700 worth of illegal allegedly poached elvers

A Massachusetts man faces up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine after he was caught with an estimated $21,700 worth of allegedly poached elvers, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Joseph Starratt, 51, of Middleborough, Massachusetts, was arrested Friday and charged with possession of elvers, also known as baby or “glass” eels, without a license. The charge is a Class D misdemeanor crime, which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of $2,000. Marine Patrol officers, following up on a lead submitted through the Operation Game Thief tip line, located Starratt in Scarborough with 16.5 pounds of elvers and without any license to harvest them. Starratt was arrested and taken to Cumberland County Jail. Each pound contains about 2,500 elvers, click here to read the story 20:55

Maine lawmakers endorse tougher penalties for lobstermen who cheat

A legislative committee voted unanimously Wednesday to toughen penalties on lobstermen who fish too many traps or use “sunken trawls” as part of an industry-supported effort to crack down on lawbreakers. “I do think this is going to get people’s attention and will hopefully make people realize that it doesn’t pay to cheat,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. Lawmakers are considering a suite of requests from the Maine Department of Marine Resources for more enforcement tools and tougher sanctions against violators in an industry worth more than $500 million last year. A bill unanimously endorsed by the Marine Resources Committee, L.D. 575, would allow DMR’s commissioner to order longer license suspensions for lobstermen who violate the laws on the first offense and, in several cases, permanently revoke the licenses of repeat offenders. click here to read the story 19:49

Maine Lobstermen tired of conflicts, support bill to allow secretly installed tracking devices

Lobstermen fed up with cohorts who violate fishing regulations testified in favor of a bill to allow Marine Patrol officers to secretly install tracking devices on fishing vessels suspected of illegal activity without first obtaining a warrant. While a smaller faction opposed the bill, both sides agreed that Maine faces a growing “epidemic” posed by a small number of law-breakers fueling dangerous conflict and threatening the stewardship ethos within the state’s most valuable fishery. They also agreed that the Maine Department of Marine Resources needed more enforcement tools, but lobstermen differed on whether DMR’s commissioner should be allowed to authorize the installation of GPS tracking devices without getting a judge’s approval. click here to read the story 08:36

Wake Up, Fishermen! Proposed closure of coral grounds in Gulf of Maine has lobster industry on edge

Over the past 10 years, the issue of how to protect endangered whales from getting tangled in fishing gear has been a driving factor in how lobstermen configure their gear and how much money they have to spend to comply with regulations. Now federal officials have cited the need to protect deep-sea corals in a proposal to close some areas to fishing — a proposal that, according to lobstermen, could pose a serious threat to how they ply their trade. “The [potential] financial impact is huge,” Jim Dow, a Bass Harbor lobsterman and board member with Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said Wednesday. “You’re talking a lot of the coast that is going to be affected by it.” The discovery in 2014 of deep-sea corals in the gulf, near Mount Desert Rock and along the Outer Schoodic Ridges, has prompted the New England Fisheries Management Council to consider making those area off-limits to fishing vessels in order to protect the coral from damage. According to Maine Department of Marine Resources, fishermen from at least 15 harbors in Hancock and Washington counties could be affected by the proposed closure. click here to read the story  Wake Up, Fishermen! 11:15:30

2016 proves a record year for Maine’s fishing industry

Maine’s fishing industry topped $700 million in overall value in 2016, including a dockside value for the lobster fishery of $533 million. Both were records, according to preliminary data released Friday by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. DMR reported the $721 million total value represented a nearly $100 million increase over 2015. For the second straight year, the largest single increase in value was in Maine’s lobster fishery. The fishery saw the overall landed value jump by more than $30 million — from $501 million in 2015 to $533 million in 2016 — while the average per pound value remained over $4 for the second year in a row, at $4.07. When factoring in bonuses paid to harvesters as reported by 14 of Maine’s 19 lobster co-ops, the overall landed value of Maine’s lobster fishery reached $547.24 million, DMR reported. continue reading the story here 11:09

Maine lobstermen oppose increase in cost of commercial fishing licenses

A proposal to increase the cost of commercial fishing licenses to fund scientific research in a lean budget year is drawing fire from Maine lobstermen. Julie Eaton, a 30-year lobster boat captain from Deer Isle, told a legislative panel at the State House on Friday that a 30 percent increase in lobster license fees would be too much on top of all the other costs of doing business, ranging from $125 to replace lost traps to $185 for monthly oil changes to bait bills that have doubled in the last year alone. The Maine Department of Marine Resources is seeking to increase lobster license fees about 30 percent, which would generate roughly $600,000 in new revenues. That money would be used to expand state lobster research and protect other department units, like the Maine Marine Patrol, despite budget cuts ordered by Gov. Paul LePage to offset the anticipated effect of a new minimum wage law and state school spending initiative. Continue reading the article here 09:24

Proposed Maine Elver Eel Lottery Would Keep Industry Viable

A proposal to create a new lottery system to allow people into Maine’s big-money baby eel fishery is the best way to keep the industry sustainable, some fishermen say. Baby eels are a prized resource in Maine, where they are fished from rivers and streams and sold to Asian aquaculture companies in countries such as China and South Korea. The baby eels, or elvers, can sell for more than $2,000 per pound. The eels eventually get raised to adulthood and turned into food, such as sushi, with some spanning the globe to come back to American restaurants. Right now, entry into the fishery is closed. A Maine trade group for elver fishermen is supporting a proposed state law that would allot new elver fishing permits via a lottery. The group’s president, Darrell Young, said members of the fishery are aging and the lottery system will let new people in. “We’re all getting older and eventually we’re going to pass away,” Young said. “As people die off or give up or whatever, there will be a drawing.” Read the story here 14:36

Maine Department of Marine Resources wants to raise the price of commercial fishing licenses

If approved by the Legislature, the proposed fee increases would range from as little as $1 for a Maine resident to harvest green crabs to as much as $114 for a lobsterman with two sternmen. Under the new fee schedule, which would take effect January 2018, the cost of securing a Class III lobster license would top $1,000 for the first time, hitting $1,002. The fee hike would enable the Department of Marine Resources to hire an additional lobster biologist, outfit its science staff with field technology and pay for Marine Patrol officer raises and ballistics vests, among other things, without increasing the department’s $21.3 million bottom line, department spokesman Jeff Nichols said. Read the story here 08:36

Participants in cooperative winter sampling program for Gulf of Maine northern shrimp announced

The program, coordinated by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, is designed to provide biological data on the shrimp fishery which is closed for the fourth year in a row. These Maine fishermen were chosen from over 60 applicants based on a random drawing of those fully qualified in each region. Preference was given to trawlers willing to participate in a test of a compound grate for harvesting. The sampling program will include the participation of 10 trawlers (eight Maine trawlers, one Massachusetts trawler and one New Hampshire trawler) and five Maine trappers fishing for eight weeks from mid-January to mid-March.  Read the story here 08:15