Tag Archives: Maine Department of Marine Resources

Lobsterman finds body off Down East coast

A Jonesport lobsterman on Monday found a body in the ocean near Addison. The Maine Marine Patrol has recovered the body, and it is being transported to the Maine medical examiner’s office in Augusta for identification, Maine Department of Marine Resources spokesperson Jeff Nichols said. Nichols declined to comment on whether the body may be that of Tylar Michaud, a Steuben lobsterman who went missing on July 21 after he went out to haul traps near Petit Manan Island. Charles Kelley, a Steuben lobsterman and pastor at a local church who led Sunday’s service for Michaud, said that while an official identification of the body has not been made, people close to the family and who were involved in the extensive search believe it is Michaud. >click to read< 17:41

Court decision a major win for Maine’s lobster industry

In its decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with the plaintiffs, Maine Lobstermen’s Association, and plaintiff-intervenors the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the Maine Lobstering Union, and the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, ruling that NMFS distorted the science driving the regulation, relying improperly on assumptions and worst-case scenarios when determining the risk posed by industry to right whales. The court noted that the lack of data led NMFS to conclude the lobster and Jonah crab federal fisheries kill 46 whale deaths per decade, a “staggering departure from the two documented deaths known to have originated in all U.S. fisheries over a period of nine years.” >click to read< 09:58

Maine bill to pay lobstermen to test new gear gets initial Senate approval

The bill seeks to set aside $1 million a year for the next two years to help lobstermen comply with federal regulations that could kick-in within six years. Following the Senate vote on Tuesday, bill sponsor Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic) said federal regulators have “targeted Maine’s lobster industry as a scapegoat.” “The bipartisan fight against these untenable regulations is ongoing,” she said in a statement. “This bill will help make sure that lobstermen are prepared for what might be on the horizon.” Vitelli’s bill, which faces additional House and Senate votes, would provide stipends to reimburse lobstermen for time they spend testing gear. >click to read< 09:05

Don’t make this mistake about Maine women who catch lobster

“One hundred percent of the women I talked to called themselves lobstermen, and some people asked me why I used what they said was an inappropriate word,” Farrell said. “I had to explain to them that female lobstermen aren’t lobsterwomen, or lobster fishers. They are lobstermen.” Across the board, lobstermen is the preferred term for anyone who works on a lobster boat in Maine. It doesn’t matter what age, background, sexual orientation or gender you are: If you’re working on a boat, you’re a lobsterman. Same goes for sternman, if you’re prepping bait and sorting through the day’s catch. >click to read< 11:33

Baby eels remain one of America’s most valuable fish after strong year in Maine

Baby eels, called elvers, are often worth more than $2,000 per pound because of how valuable they are to Asian aquaculture companies. That makes them one of the most valuable fish species in the U.S. They’re raised to maturity so they can be used in Japanese food, some of which is sold in the U.S. in unagi dishes at sushi restaurants. The elvers have again been worth more than $2,000 per pound at the docks this year, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. South Carolina is the only other state in the country with a fishing industry for baby eels, and that state’s fishery is much smaller. >click to read< 09:12

Green Gold Rush: What happened to Maine’s once-robust sea urchin industry?

In the United States’ easternmost city, you’ll find Paul Cox and his crew working early on the water. In late winter, they’re after a spikey, green, and otherwise inedible sea creature (besides the gonads): the green sea urchin. Alone and in often murky water that requires a flashlight, he scoops hundreds of pounds of sea urchin into yellow nets. His crew, Paul and Jevin, sort the urchin above water. Cox said he started to dive for sea urchin in the ’90s, not long before the state cut off any new licenses to prospective fishermen. After the ’90s, no one could get a new sea urchin license. Now everyone who dives for urchin is in their 60s and 70s, with little hope on the horizon for new licenses seeing how the sea urchin has lost so much of its habitat because of climate change and invasive species.  Photos,Video, >click to read< 10:54

Regulators approve new lobster size limits in Maine to preserve young population

An Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission board has approved new measures that could change the minimum and maximum catch sizes for lobster in certain parts of Maine. The fisheries commission said it will gradually implement changes to measurement sizes by fractions of an inch in certain parts of the Gulf of Maine — but only if it observes a 35% decline in the young lobster population through trawl and trap survey data. Recent assessments have shown a 23% decline in juvenile lobsters, said Pat Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. >click to read< 09:01

Herring fishermen get money after decline of fish, quota cuts

Fishermen in Maine’s historic herring fishing business will receive money from the federal government to help cope with a decline in the fish’s population that has caused the industry to struggle.  The government has appropriated $7 million for the fishermen, the Maine Department of Marine Resources said Wednesday. Atlantic herring were found to be overfished via a 2020 scientific assessment, and fishing quotas were slashed after that. The nation’s catch of Atlantic herring has plummeted in the face of quota cuts and concern over the health of the stock. The loss of herring has led to a bait crunch for lobster fishermen, who have had to seek other sources of bait for traps. >click to read< 09:26

Under pressure, Maine lobstermen could get funding to test new gear that could safeguard whales and their livelihoods

Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic) is sponsoring LD 1552, which would set aside $1 million a year for the next two years to provide stipends to lobstermen to test new lobster gear. “Over the past several years many fishermen have come to terms with the fact that some level of innovation will be needed to ensure the future of the fishery.” A move by the state’s congressional delegation late last year delayed implementation of additional regulations for six years, buying the industry time to “develop new fishing gear technologies,” Patrice McCarron, policy director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, wrote to the committee. Studies are looking at whether ropeless technology can be used, but McCarron doesn’t believe that’s the answer. >click to read< 15:29

Catch size a hot topic at Zone B meeting

A declining stock, looming federal rules to protect right whales and the court fights against them, how required gear and reporting changes will be paid for — Zone B lobstermen had a lot of industry news to talk about April 12 at Mount Desert Island High School. Discussion centered mainly on newly proposed minimum (and maximum) legal catch sizes to bolster the lobster stock. “I’ve heard at all council meetings, it’s not if you act, it’s when you act,” said Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. “It’s almost like no one is taking into account what we’re seeing,” Zone B Council Vice Chairman James Hanscom said. “As an industry, we’re handling a lot of lobsters.” Several lobstermen and council members at the meeting had attended a March ASMFC meeting in Ellsworth and were familiar with proposed management measures that would increase the minimum legal size for landed lobster. >click to read< 16:20

Maine’s seafood harvest has fallen 120M pounds since 2012

At 197 million pounds for all commercially harvested marine species, 2022 was the first time since 1975 that Maine’s reported annual seafood harvest has fallen short of 200 million pounds. In fact, the cumulative volume of Maine’s commercial fisheries dropped by more than 120 million pounds between 2012 and 2022, state data show. Patrick Keliher, head of the state’s Department of Marine Resources, said there are myriad reasons why fishery landings have declined — some regulatory, others environmental. Meanwhile, landings of lobster, which remains the state’s dominant fishery despite looming restrictions to better protect whales, have dipped in recent years but still are much higher than they were prior to the 1990s. >click to read< 09:12

New bill would expand state waters in attempt to protect Maine lobstermen from federal regulations

State Sen. Eric Brakey, the bill’s sponsor, said the proposal is intended to protect Maine lobstermen from what he says are overly burdensome federal regulations, particularly those aimed at protecting endangered right whales. “LD 563 would throw the yolk of these federal regulators off our Maine lobstermen by extending Maine’s claim to the sovereignty of our oceans from three miles to 12 miles, subjecting our lobstermen to the rules of Maine regulators, accountable to Maine people, rather than Washington, DC regulators who seem accountable to no one,” he told the Legislature’s marine resources committee Thursday. >click to read< 10:39

Lobstermen unhappy over proposed changes in legal size of catch

Lobstermen facing new fishing restrictions proposed by the multi-state Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) met March 9 with Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) staff to hear details, ask questions and provide public comments. But the majority of the 30 lobstermen gathered in the Ellsworth High School cafeteria said don’t change anything. The meeting came the day after an online meeting was held that drew about 50 people. Winter Harbor lobsterman Herman Faulkingham said that a multi-state commission shouldn’t regulate individual fishermen in Maine. Jim Hanscom, who fishes out of Bar Harbor and is vice chairman of the Zone B Lobster Council, agreed. >click to read< 11:29

Federal court hears arguments from Maine lobstermen appealing right whale regulations

A federal appeals court heard arguments Friday from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, which is challenging a government plan to regulate the fishery and conserve endangered right whales. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association had promised to take its latest appeal of federal fishing regulations all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. But lobstermen hope they’ll avoid that prospect, especially with Paul Clement, an attorney with more than 100 past Supreme Court appearances, representing Maine. >click to read< 07:22

MLA back in court this month over federal lobstering rules

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association continues its court fight against the National Marine Fisheries Service, challenging its biological opinion for the endangered right whale, released in May 2021, and the science used to inform it. The MLA lost its original lawsuit in Sept. 2022 but was granted the right to appeal. Oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 24 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. The Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Maine Lobstering Union Lodge 207, the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, are intervenors in the case. “[The six-year delay] just really amplifies the concerns that the MLA has had,” MLA executive director Patrice McCarron said. “It highlights and exemplifies the importance of the work we’ve done and the importance of letting the lawsuit run its course.” >click to read< 09:23

Maine lobstermen deal with another new rule, and it’s not about right whales

Until this year, only a fraction of Maine’s lobster fishers were required to report what they caught, including details on when, where and how many. The data went to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a coalition of 15 East Coast states that regulates fishing for more than two dozen species. But as Jan. 1, all Maine lobstermen now have to report data on their harvests to the state and to the commission. The fishermen, traditionally wary of new regulations on their industry, aren’t saying much. “All the paperwork is always a hassle, but we need to give up the data and hopefully it doesn’t get used against us,” said John Tripp, a lobsterman from Tenants Harbor. Several other members of the lobster industry declined a request for an interview about the mandate. >click to read< 09:15

Maine delegation adds 6-year pause on lobster rules to federal spending bill

Maine’s congressional delegation has inserted a six-year pause on new regulations intended to protect endangered right whales into a key federal spending package as it seeks to protect a lobster industry that says it is under siege. The provision will help a vital Maine industry that had been hit with too many regulations despite its lack of threat to the endangered whales, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden and Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement. The late-breaking move comes just days before Congress is expected to approve a massive $1.7 trillion spending bill that would fund the government through next fall. >click to read< 13:34

Maine to get $1.2 million for lobster gear research and communications tools

Maine’s lobster industry will benefit from $1.2 million in federal funding to study the potential impacts of new regulations on fishing gear. The money comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant American Lobster Initiative. The Maine Department of Marine Resources will get $750,000 to test and evaluate lobster gear modifications that could be required under a proposal from NOAA to protect endangered right whales. Just over $400,000 will go to the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation to provide lobstermen with on-board computers, sensors and other technology to help them collect data and images. >click to read< 08:32

Fishermen reeling as further whale protection measures fast tracked

Maine lobstermen worry that their fate is sealed. Dozens gathered Tuesday evening in the Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School cafeteria for a livestream of a NOAA Fisheries scoping session on modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. Hundreds more participated online. Spurred by a recent court ruling, federal regulators are fast tracking plans to achieve a 90 percent reduction in entanglement risk. “These are measures that are going to really hurt and there were measures that were put forth that look really bad that didn’t come close to 90 percent, so I want people to realize that this is real, that this is coming and it’s not going to be pretty,” said Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and an Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team member. >click to read< 10:15

On The Ropes – Federal court rules against lobster industry in appeal of whale protection regulations

“Obviously, it’s devastating to the lobster industry,” Stonington Town Manager Kathleen Billings told the Islander. Stonington lands by far the most lobsters in the state. In total, Maine lobstermen added an estimated $724,949,426 worth of lobster landings to the state commercial fishery in 2021.  “We have a lot at stake,” Billings continued. “[Lobstering] makes up $60 [million] to $70 million to our economy and to have this recent ruling, and also too with the Seafood Watch list designation, they pretty much put a torch to our industry and burnt it to the ground for us.” >click to read< 08:55

Maine lobstermen, politicians rally in protest of fishing restrictions and Seafood Watch’s recommended boycott

At a rally in Portland’s Old Port on Friday, they protested a federal judge’s ruling issue Thursday allowing the National Marine Fisheries Service, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to impose limits on where and how lobstermen fish in order to protect endangered North Atlantic Right Whales. The rally was also protesting Seafood Watch, a California-based sustainable seafood advocacy group affiliated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, now recommending food distributors and restaurants boycott Maine lobster in the name of saving the whales. Video, >click to read< 09:55

Fishery interests urge judge to rule in lobster lawsuit

Parties in a lobster industry lawsuit filed against federal regulators are urging a judge to make a decision in the case because its outcome affects a parallel case that the parties have to act on. The federal judge considering this decision was the same who ruled last month that new regulations to protect endangered right whales do not go far enough and violate both the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. In that case, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg asked the parties to propose remedies. The lobster association’s case takes aim at newly enacted and proposed federal regulations to protect the whales, which the association says are invalid because they are based on flawed assumptions and calculations. The parties need to know the court’s opinion so they can develop proposed remedies that Boasberg ordered in the parallel lawsuit brought by conservation groups.  >click to read< 17:01

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

Governor Mills Announces Cost Relief for Maine’s Commercial Fishermen and Aquaculturists

The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) will use $8.3 million in Federal funding to reimburse resident commercial fishermen, dealers, processors, and aquaculturists for the cost of their 2022 licenses, as well as additional fees associated with licenses such as trap tag fees for lobster license holders. The Department will also waive lease fees for active commercial leases for the 2022 lease year through a separate process. The first round of payments, which amount to $4.2 million, will be mailed by the end of this month for license holders who purchased their license between November 15, 2021 and March 31, 2022. Reimbursements for licenses purchased during each of the remaining quarters of 2022 will be mailed separately. >click to read< 16:45

Breakable lines, remote control traps: Maine lobstermen grapple with an onslaught of new rules

Last week federal officials announced they aim to deploy high-tech fishing gear on as many as 100 lobster and crab boats in New England. It’s the latest move to bring Maine’s lobster fleet into a new era, as an onslaught of potentially transformative federal regulations intended to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales take effect. At a Damariscotta River wharf piled high with gleaming yellow lobster traps, boat captain Eben Wilson and his sternman, Daniel Barter, deftly pull strands of colored rope apart, then knot plastic links in between. “I think the next five years from the lobster industry perspective is going to be difficult,” says Patrick Keliher, Commissioner of Maine’s Department of Marine Resources. >click to read< 15:13

American Aquafarms appeals DMR lease application decision

American Aquafarms has appealed a recent decision by the Maine Department of Marine Resources to terminate two lease applications for a proposed salmon farm in Frenchman Bay. American Aquafarms (AAF) is asking the court to vacate the DMR’s decision and send the applications back to the department for continued consideration. The DMR, in a statement, said it stands behind its decision to terminate the lease applications. The reason for termination, according to the DMR, lies in the proposed egg stock that American Aquafarms had listed in its application. >click to read< 09:41

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

2021: A Year of Historic Value for Maine Commercial Fishermen

On the strength of an historic year for lobster and a rebounding elver fishery, the value of Maine’s commercially harvested marine resources in 2021 reached an all time high at $890,668,873. According to recently released data from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the overall value earned by harvesters in 2021 jumped by more than $365 million and exceeded the previous overall record of $733,691,455, set in 2016, by $150 million. >click to read< 09:30

Lincoln County a Growing Force in Maine’s Elver Fishery

The elver fishery is the second most valuable fishery in Maine despite its brief season, lasting only 11 weeks from March 22 to June 7. Recent years have seen annual income generated by the fishery exceed $20 million. And from a per pound perspective, it easily tops lobsters as the most lucrative fishery in the state, and possibly in the country. The demand for elvers is driven by the overseas market where baby eels are grown to size in specially designed aquaculture facilities for use in Asian cuisine. Once mature, the eels are also processed and shipped back to the U.S. where they are a popular dish on sushi menus. While still in its infancy, U.S. based eel aquaculture is poised to be another factor in the fishery. photos, >click to read< 15:24

“I guess they’re too weak.” Weak lobstering gear recalled as new whale regs approach

The weak link made by Plante’s Buoy Sticks was pulled off shelves by the company this week, taking away one of the handful of gear options at lobstermen’s disposal to meet new federal rules that go into effect May 1. One retailer said their shop was told the links were believed to be breaking too easily. Plante’s links are one of three models approved by NOAA,,, Virginia Olsen, Maine Lobstering Union, said she sent a notice to her members about the issue and hoped the recall would prompt NOAA to review allowing fishermen the easier option of putting knots in their ropes to make them weaker. “It truly would be a great assistance to us if those knots were acceptable,” she said. >click to read< 14:21