National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

lincIn Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.

It looks like Maine officials have taken steps to make it easier for the state's fishermen to turn invasive green crabs into greenbacks.

Last week, Maine's Department of Marine Resources adopted rules that will make it easier for harvesters to catch and sell green crabs, which are proliferating and taking a toll on the state's shellfish populations, most notably soft-shell clams, the state's third-largest fishery.

Green crabs aren't new to Maine. According to DMR, Carcinus maenas, aka, the common shore crab, arrived in the 1850s, hitching a ride from Europe across the Atlantic in ballast water in ships. They were seen in Maine's Casco Bay in 1900 and had made it north to Jonesport by 1951.

IMG 0052Invasive green crabs pose a threat to Maine's soft-shell clam fishery, which is the state's third largest wild fishery. Department of Marine Resources photoThey've become a growing problem in recent years, the department says. The population boom has coincided with rising ocean temperatures. Today, their numbers have increased dramatically in some areas of the state.

They populate the soft-bottom intertidal zone, feasting on blue mussels and soft-shell clams. The clam fishery notched landings of nearly 10.7 million pounds worth $16.91 million in 2013, according to department data. Landings volume declined from the 2012 total of 11.1 million pounds, which officials attribute to the green crabs.

Now the department has adopted new rules that streamline regulations and better enable harvesters to collect the crabs and boot them from Maine's coastal waters.

The new rules allow Maine lobstermen to land green crabs that come up in their traps as bycatch. Lobster and crab license holders no longer need to obtain a green crab-only license in order to sell the critters. The department has eliminated harvester reporting requirements for green crab. And it's now legal to harvest the invasive species in the Sheepscot, Damariscotta and Medowmak rivers from Dec. 1 to April 30.

Moreover, Maine's Green Crab Task Force has announced it's conducting a targeted mail survey to individual harvesters and growers to get feedback on the effects of green crabs on Maine marine resources and habitat. The task force hopes the survey will help it learn how many survey respondents are encountering green crabs, if they've observed changes in local populations in recent years and whether there are ongoing effects on marine resources.

Moreover, Maine's Green Crab Task Force has announced it's conducting a targeted mail survey to individual harvesters and growers to get feedback on the effects of green crabs on Maine marine resources and habitat. The task force hopes the survey will help it learn how many survey respondents are encountering green crabs, if they've observed changes in local populations in recent years and whether there are ongoing effects on marine resources.

The task force will use those survey responses to develop solutions to the problem and in making recommendations to Gov. Paul LePage in the months ahead. Maine harvesters interested in taking part of the survey can contact Jenn McHenry by emailing her at jennifer.mchenry@maine.edu or via snail mail at the Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor, ME 04575.

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14

In this episode:

NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first

 

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