Tag Archives: Stephen Rappaport

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

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

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

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

Recommended gear rules for Right Whale safety are adopted

With the National Oceanic Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under a fast approaching, court-imposed deadline to develop new whale protection rules, the Zone C Lobster Management Council held a special meeting last week to get an update on the situation from Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher.  The meeting was also an opportunity to consider a zone-specific plan for gear modifications that will likely be required by NMFS. As with many things occurring during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the meeting took place in cyberspace.  >click to read< 14:43 

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

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

Big turnout for Winter Harbor lobster boat races

Blessed by near perfect weather, 88 boats signed up to power up the course between the Schoodic Peninsula and Grindstone Neck in a slate of 29 races that saw some tight competition and a new diesel-powered lobster boat speed record — well, maybe — set. There were plenty of stars in this year’s event, but the “supernova” had to be Cameron Crawford’s 28-foot, 1,050-horsepower Wild Wild West. Winter Harbor always seems to bring out a good mix of boats familiar to racing fans and boats that are brand spanking new.  >click to read< 08:58

Scallop season is underway

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

Scientists review divisive whale risk reduction model

A panel of scientists gathered in Woods Hole, Mass., last week to evaluate a controversial “decision support tool” used by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to design proposed rules aimed at protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales and other large marine mammals from entanglement with fishing gear. Last spring, the NOAA Fisheries Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (TRT) recommended that the fisheries service adopt new rules that would, among other requirements, force Maine lobstermen to remove from the water 50 percent of the vertical lines used to connect traps on the bottom to marker buoys on the surface. >click to read< 11:07

New boat joins the Stonington lobster fleet

Sunday was a great day to have a picnic along the shore of Eggemoggin Reach even without an excuse. The celebration for the launching of Stonington lobsterman Matt Shepard’s new lobster boat Alexsa Rose made the party even better. Shepard comes from a fishing family and has been lobstering since he was a tyke on a succession of ever larger boats. For the last several years, he fished on a 35-footer. Alexsa Rose, named for his daughter, is big step up. The solid fiberglass hull and cored fiberglass top were built by the Kief brothers’ Morgan Bay Boat Co. in Frankfort and it was just the third boat out of the mold for the new 43-foot model. >click to read<11:41

Moosabec Reach Lobster Boat Races are a speed extravaganza

Historically, the Moosabec Reach Lobster Boat Races have been held, in most years at least, on July 4, timed to coincide with Jonesport’s holiday festivities. Historically, two things were virtually assured: a great parade and dungeon-thick fog that delayed the start of the races — occasionally for days. Because the holiday falls on Wednesday this year, the races were shifted to Saturday, with astounding results. There was no fog on Moosabec Reach, and, according to Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association President Jon Johansen, 101 boats registered to compete, perhaps the biggest fleet in the history of the event, and the races actually started on time. >click to read<10:38

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

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

Gear is in wrong place for right whales, scientists say

Speaking at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum on Friday,,, The NOAA Fisheries Large Whale Take Reduction Team recently established separate working groups to study two proposals to reduce the risk of entanglement: splicing several 1,700-pound breaking strength “weak link” sleeves into vertical lines such as those that connect lobster buoys to traps; and removing those ropes altogether by requiring the use “ropeless” fishing gear. Those working groups will focus on whether either solution is technologically feasible, whether it will actually work for fishermen, and whether it can be cost effective for fishermen.,, >click to read<10:32

43rd Maine Fishermen’s Forum opens on Thursday

The weathermen may be predicting snow for the weekend but Maine fishermen, or at least the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, say that spring is nearly upon us. The 43rd annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum gets under way on Thursday at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. The event features three days of seminars and workshops that bring fishermen from the along the entire New England coast together with: state and federal fisheries scientists, regulators and managers; political incumbents and hopefuls; and maritime enterprises hawking everything from new lobster boats and giant diesel engines to lobster traps, marine electronics, refrigeration systems and foul weather gear. >click to read< 20:40

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

Eastern Maine Skippers dip toes in murky waters

What’s bugging people in the fishing industry in your town? How do you find out? What can you do about it? More than 100 students from the Downeast eight high schools that participate in the Eastern Maine Skippers program travelled to the Schoodic Institute last week to learn how to answer those questions. The students were gathered at the first of four “full cohort events” planned for the current school year — as much to give them the opportunity to meet one another as to get a start on acquiring the problem-solving skills that can help keep the fisheries, and fishing industry, in their communities sustainable. click here to read the story 18:11

New wooden lobster boat launched at Billings

As lobstermen have seen higher earnings, they have been keeping Maine boatbuilders busy, ordering new and, generally, larger boats at what seems to be a record pace. Most of the new boats are built of fiberglass, but last Friday Stonington boatbuilder Peter Buxton launched a handsome 32-foot wooden lobster boat for Brooksville lobsterman Kathy Lymburner. Christened Emma G, the new boat is one of just a handful of wooden boats that will enter the lobster fishing fleet. For the past several years Lymburner and her sternman, Meg Carton, have fished out of a 28-foot fiberglass lobster boat. When Lymburner decided she wanted a bigger boat she went to Buxton to build it. click here to read the story 17:21

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 Lobstermans integrity is upheld in court when cleared of unlicensed fishing charge

Every once in a while, a case comes along that serves as a reminder that Maine courts, like the state’s many law enforcement agencies, are a part of what is loosely called the justice system and that most of the people who work in the courts and law enforcement agencies want to see justice done. Last week, Trenton lobsterman Jacob White found himself before Superior Court Justice Robert E. Murray facing a civil violation of the state’s marine resources laws for fishing without a lobster license last October. Also before the court was the state’s seizure of 156 pounds of lobster White landed at the Seal Cove wharf on the day Marine Patrol Officer Jeff Turcotte issued the summons for unlicensed lobstering. White decided to fight the case and, perhaps a surprise, he won. “I take pride in being a good fisherman and an honest fisherman,” White told the judge. Murray evidently agreed,,, Read the story here 17:59

Lobster price depends on whose plate

10-lobsters1Last week the news was filled with stories about the price of Maine lobster reaching its highest point in 10 years or more. Some trade publications were talking about 1¼-pound hardshells selling for as much as $8.50 over Labor Day weekend. That may be true, but its news to most dealers and fishermen in Downeast Maine when it comes to discussing the boat price. “I’m getting $4.35 plus whatever bonus at the end of the year,” a lobsterman from Blue Hill said on Sunday. That price was for shedders — or what the industry-funded Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative prefers to call “new shell” lobsters. The fisherman hasn’t caught any hardshell lobsters all summer. Read the story here 12:06

Hang on to those baseball caps and grab some ear protectors! Lobster boat racing season is here

WF-Lobster-Boat-RacingIt’s the middle of June and the Maine lobster boat racing season is here. Last year saw some fierce competition despite the absence of two traditional, longtime racing venues. This year, Searsport and Harpswell are both still absent from the schedule, but there could be a potent new challenger for the World’s Fastest Lobster Boat title now held by Foolish Pleasure, and almost certainly, a Canadian invasion. This year’s schedule includes 10 events, with racing in ports all along the coast stretching from Portland to Jonesport. Nine of those events will count toward the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association’s season-long points championship. The season opens this Saturday morning with the Boothbay Harbor Charlie Begin Memorial Lobster Boat Races. On Sunday, the fleet will head for Rockland to race behind the breakwater inside the harbor. Read the story here 11:15

Elver fishermen unite as tribes agree to new rules

SMR_Feigenbaum-Simmons-Young-Atwood-1Last year, Maine fishermen harvested elvers worth more than $11.4 million from the state’s streams and rivers. That made the fishery for the tiny, translucent juvenile eels the fourth most valuable in the state, but it still wasn’t a good year. A cold, dry spring delayed the migration of elvers from the sea into the rivers where harvesters set their gear. As a result, Maine fishermen landed just 5,259 pounds of the tiny wrigglers, little more than half the 9,688-pound quota allocated the state by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. When the Maine Elver Fishermen Association gathered for its annual meeting Saturday morning, harvesters received some good news from Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher and former MEFA Executive Director Jeffrey Pierce. Read the article here 09:42

2015 a half-billion dollar lobsterpalooza for Maine fishermen

The Department of Marine Resources released its preliminary 2015 commercial fisheries landings Thursday night and the news was astonishing. According to DMR, the value of Maine’s commercially harvested marine resources topped $600 million in overall value in 2015. The total, $631,768,531, is an all-time high and an increase of more than $33 million over the previous record set in 2014. The largest single increase in value was in the state’s lobster fishery, which saw its total landed value jump by more than $37 million and the average per pound boat price increase by more than 10 percent, from $3.70 per pound in 2014 to $4.09 per pound last year. Read the rest here 08:59

41st Maine Fishermen’s Forum on tap for March 3

Forum2016colorThe weather has been crazy this winter, with the temperature sometimes below zero one day and near 60 the next. A semblance of order will soon be restored as fishermen and members of a host of related industries gather at the Samoset Resort in Rockport for the 41st annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum. The full program — including more than 30 seminars on subjects related to the fishing industry, gear, regulations and the like — gets into full swing on Friday, March 4. That’s when the Maine Lobstermen’s Association will host its 62nd Annual Meeting. Read the article here 09:39 To visit the Maine Fishermen’s Forum website, Click here

Maine State Legislature to consider fisheries bills on “emergency” basis

SMR-Scallop-Meeting-1-300x199The Legislature will take up bills dealing with the lobster and elver fisheries when it returns to work next month, but new licensing rules for the scallop industry will likely have to wait. Last month, the Legislative Council approved two bills proposed by Rep. Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle) for consideration by the full Legislature when it returns to work in January. The council has to green-light any new bills that lawmakers want to introduce during the Legislature’s second session. Read the article here 13:14

Maine: Scallop season is under way, but maybe not for long

mkMaine’s winter scallop season opened last Tuesday, Dec. 1, and divers working in Blue Hill’s Salt Pond and outer harbor — both closed to draggers — got a nice surprise. According to Trisha Cheney of the Department of Marine Resources, divers in both areas were able to harvest their 15-gallon daily limit on opening day and the scallops they landed fetched an excellent price. Just how long the good news will last, around Blue Hill or elsewhere Downeast, is an open question. Read the article here 11:14

Maine – Industry confronts access issues as scallop season opens

SMR-Scallop-Meeting-1-300x199The Maine scallop fishery opened Tuesday morning, with predictions that the boat price will be high, the season short and the pressure to let more people into the fishery intense. Last week, Trisha Cheney, the Department of Marine Resources’ scallop resource coordinator, hosted an outreach meeting in Ellsworth to give industry members a heads-up about what to expect for the coming season and to hear their concerns about the fishery and the way it is managed by DMR. Read the article here 14:00

Lobsterman discovers sea squirts on his traps

Tunicates-Lobstering-SMR-23-1200x795It’s no secret that the waters of the Gulf of Maine are getting warmer. Although many fishermen say that this summer the water around Downeast Maine has been colder than in recent years, according to data compiled by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, from 2004 to 2013, water surface temperatures rose faster in the Gulf of Maine than in 99.9 percent of the global ocean. Cold or warm, this year strange critters have made themselves at home in local waters, some of them apparently settling in Downeast Maine for the first time. Read the article here 19:02

Wesmac 46 Battle Wagon prepares to battle tuna

Battle-Wagon-21Wesmac Custom Boats launched its latest Super 46 last week, and though it has celebrity owners it is hard to imagine a more serious fishing machine than Battle Wagon. TV talk show host Maury Povich and his wife, newswoman Connie Chung, ordered the boat nearly two years ago for their son Matthew to use, primarily, in the commercial offshore canyon fishery for bigeye and yellowfin tuna, the fish often marketed under the Hawaiian name “ahi” in restaurants. Read the rest here 15:07

Fishing for scallops not a daily drag – Aboard F/V First Impression in Frenchman Bay

It was an ideal day to join  for a day of scalloping aboard his dragger, First Impression.,, His 50th birthday not too long behind him, West has been a fisherman most of his life. He has gone lobstering, chased groundfish such as cod, haddock and flounder when there were any to be had, gone trawling for shrimp until the fishery closed two years ago, and has even leased a site in Frenchman Bay to try his hand at growing mussels and seaweed. What West really enjoys, though, is running a dragger. Read the rest here  09:13