AUGUSTA – Lawmakers on the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources effectively killed a bill Wednesday that would allow fishermen to keep and sell lobsters caught in trawling nets.
The panel voted unanimously — with two members absent — to defeat the bill, a move that likely means it will fail when it comes up for full votes in the House and Senate.
The bill, L.D. 1097, had reignited an old debate between supporters, who claimed that the bill would save Maine’s flagging groundfishing industry, and lobstermen, who said the proposal would endanger the lobster fishery.
Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, the sponsoredthe bill to permit trawlers to land “incidentally caught” lobsters, known as bycatch, in some federally regulated waters and sell them at the Portland Fish Exchange.
The bill had the support of the LePage administration and Portland Mayor Michael Brennan. The administration argued that lobsters are already being drag-caught in federal waters, then landed and sold in other states.
Haskell, in a written statement, said she hoped that the administration and the committee would find an “alternate path that will support the goals of preserving Maine’s fishing infrastructure.”
Read the full story at the Portland Press Herald>>