Tag Archives: Patrice McCarron

Big Story: Lobstermen fear disaster as new gear regulations take effect

Doug McLennan isn’t worried about the state of the fishery. What worries McLennan and thousands of other Maine lobstermen is the latest round of federal regulations designed to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and additional measures being planned for the next decade. The newest regulations took effect Sunday, though their enforcement has been delayed until supply chain issues for some of the required gear are resolved. This is just the latest in gear regulation change required by the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan,,, Many lobstermen have raised concerns about safety and the potential for gear failure and loss of expensive traps under the new rules, and they worry about what is coming next. >click to read< 09:16

Are the whales leaving with the food? Gulf of Maine research raises questions about new lobstering rules

As the Gulf of Maine’s waters warm, recent studies show the main food source of the endangered North Atlantic right whale is moving north, out of Maine waters. And the whales appear to be following them. Such findings haven’t escaped the notice of the Maine lobster industry, which has been referencing them in its legal arguments as to why impending new federal restrictions on lobstering gear won’t help save the whales. Oceanographer Jeffrey Runge, of the University of Maine and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, said the lipid-rich copepods have been abundant in the Gulf of Maine since Henry Bigelow did his first oceanographic surveys in the early 20th century, but that abundance has dropped by about 70 percent in the past 20 years. >click to read< 11:57

Lobstermen’s group stresses connection to Maine tourism as new whale regulations approach

The head of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association spoke at the Maine Restaurant & Lodging Expo in Portland Wednesday about threats she said could erase Maine’s lobster industry and hurt the hospitality industry along with it. Association Executive Director Patrice McCarron said the lobster industry is a driver of local economies, with 4,800 vessel owners running independent small businesses, and collectively providing 10,000 jobs on the boats alone, many of those jobs irreplaceable in remote coastal areas. And the industry is booming,,, “With all that’s going so well for us, how could we possibly be looking at our fishing heritage being erased?” McCarron asked the audience. “The reason for that is the North Atlantic right whale.” >click to read< 07:50

“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

Federal windfall won’t put a stop to state lobster industry relief bills

Although Maine’s lobster industry is set to receive $17 million in federal funding as part of the 2022 omnibus spending package, it is unlikely to affect two bills going through the Legislature that seek more than $30 million in state funds for the industry. The spending bill will bring more than $200 million in funding for projects across the state. For the lobster industry, it includes $14 million to help lobstermen comply with new federal regulations intended to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales, set to take effect May 1, along with $760,000 for the Department of Marine Resources to conduct outreach and education among lobstermen, and $2.3 million for right whale research, monitoring and conservation. >click to read< 17:28

Save the Gulf of Maine – The Maine Reset, Ep. 4: Never Forgotten

Derek Colbeth grew up lobstering, and then served for 5 years in the US Marine Corps. Now he’s a civilian again, but his heritage and livelihood is under attack on all fronts. Powerful interests are converging in a war against Maine Lobstermen. If Lobstermen lose this fight, Maine will never be the same. >Video, click to watch< 14:35

Save the Gulf of Maine – The Maine Reset, Ep.3: This is an Experiment

In this episode, interviews with two brilliant people that you won’t want to miss regarding offshore wind development in Maine. Carla Guenther PhD brings an oceanography perspective, and Long Island Commercial Fisherman Steve Train lays out some practical wisdom as only a fisherman can. Sandwiched in there are some of my own antics lampooning the empty suits from corporations who want to confiscate our ocean., >Video, click to watch< 13:15 ocean industrialization

Maine considers fund for lobster fishermen/gillnetters hurt by whale rules

Maine is by the far the most significant lobster fishing state in the country, and members of the state’s industry have warned they will suffer because of the new rules. A proposal from Democratic Rep. Holly Stover of Boothbay would create the fund, which would provide grants for lobster fishermen as well as some fishermen who harvest other species with gillnets. “The lobster industry is an economic driver of our local economy, hands down,” Stover said. “This is not a fisheries disaster, this is an economic disaster.” >click to read< 11:18

Save the Gulf of Maine – The Maine Reset Part 2, Fait Accompli?

First, we look at a basic chronology of the interplay between the State of Maine, the University of Maine, and private entities RWE Renewables and Diamond Offshore Wind (subsidiary of Mitsubishi) as they have joined forces in a venture of enormous importance. They partnered on a prototype of future wind turbines (Aqua Ventus I). Then they began working on an array of a dozen turbines. How many more turbines will follow? The wind developers have been clear that the first array is only the beginning of industrializing the Gulf of Maine. Then, we look in detail at some of the likely environmental impacts of industrial floating wind on marine life. It’s not a pretty picture. Yet, many large entities whose missions include protecting the environment have given ocean industrialization their blessing. Will they change their minds when they learn the full scope of impact?  Video, Click to watch<, Watch the first episode, Road to Disaster – Voices of Maine Lobstermen >click to watch< 11:01

Maine: Lobstermen could soon face another new gear regulation

Patrick Keliher, Commissioner of the state’s Department of Marine Resources, says recent research shows that the number of juvenile lobster floating in the water column or settling to the bottom is declining for a third year in a row. Now Keliher says that lobstermen should also consider another new rule to create a “trigger” mechanism for reducing the catch of juvenile lobster when their abundance falls below a certain level. Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, on Tuesday told members of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission that fishermen will be “in shock” when they learn about the potential new rule. >click to read< 07:01

Video: Road to Disaster – Voices of Maine Lobstermen

In the first installment of this series, we get a bird’s-eye view of the current status of Maine’s lobster fishery, which is under assault on two fronts. In this episode, we only hear from lobstermen and their advocates. (If you want to hear more of the opposing views of wind lobbyists, just read any given corporate media outlet’s coverage of this subject.) Upcoming episodes will bring in additional perspectives…there are a total of 20 different interviews that I conducted in 2021, so you will not want to miss these. Video by Jason Joyce >click to watch< 17:07

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’s lobster industry is in a fight for its survival

In October, a U.S. District Court judge in Bangor had ruled that there was reason to question the federal government’s decision to close this prime lobstering area for four months this winter. When an appeals court overturned this decision in November, lobstermen who had already set traps in this area were forced to dangerously hurry and take them up, creating economic hardship for those who invested in gear, rigged up and were already fishing in these productive waters. For Maine’s lobster industry, this is another frustrating example of one step forward, two steps back. This latest court ruling, however, is just the tip of the iceberg that threatens to sink the fishery. >click to read< 09:57

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

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

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

Maine: Next Generation Of Lobstermen Brace For Unprecedented Change

On a boat near Kennebunkport in late July, lobsterman Chris Welch demonstrated new ropeless gear made by a Massachusetts company. It costs about $4,000 per trap, several times more than a traditional lobster trap, which is usually $80-180. “So far it is retrievable,” Welch says. “But the challenge of the Maine fishery is there’s 5,000 lobstermen and we all fish amongst each other and attempt not to fish on top of each other. With these units unless you’re staring at your electronics all day or your iPad, there’s no way of knowing where the next guy is.”  The 33-year-old is against going ropeless and thinks the gear is a long way from being practical or affordable for most lobstermen. “I foresee it becoming a big boat fishery,” >click to read<  10:55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Atlantic Right whale trouble: Lawsuit on protections could last for months

Environmental groups sued the U.S. government with a claim that regulators’ failure to protect the North Atlantic right whale from harm was a violation of the Endangered Species Act, and U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled April 9 that they were right. The government, environmentalists and industry members who are involved in the lawsuit must still return to court to determine a remedy. Boasberg ruled that the risk posed to the whales by the lobster fishery was too great to be sustainable, and that a remedy could ultimately result in new restrictions on lobster fishing. Members of the industry, including the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, have vowed to fight to protect the fishery. >click to read< 11:27