National Fisherman


AUGUSTA — Maine-based groundfishing boats that catch lobsters in federally regulated waters will likely continue to face the threat fines as large as $50,000, with the defeat of a bill that would have lifted the state-assessed penalties on Maine fishermen.

The House voted 106-38 Tuesday to reject the bill, which supporters billed as a last-ditch effort to keep the remaining few dozen groundfish boats in the state. Last week, the Senate voted 28-7 to defeat the bill.

L.D. 1549 was designed to ensure that the groundfishing fleet can keep lobsters that come up in trawl nets and sell them in states that allow such lobsters to be landed.

Opponents said the bill would lead to further loosening of restrictions on sales of incidentally caught lobsters, a practice the lobster industry fiercely opposes because of concerns about its impact on the state’s most valuable fishery.

The votes in the Senate and House broke largely along regional lines, with many lawmakers from the Portland area voting to remove the penalty provision and lawmakers from elsewhere voting to defeat the bill.

The remainder of Maine’s groundfish industry, and its infrastructure, is based primarily in the port of Portland.

James Odlin, who owns and operates three groundfishing boats in Portland and two in Massachusetts, is one of the dozen or so fishermen who would have benefited from the bill. Odlin has also pushed for other “bycatch” legislation, including a proposal by Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, that would have allowed Maine trawlers to land and sell lobster bycatch in Maine.

Read the full story at the Portland Press Herald>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

Read more...
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