It can take years for someone to move off a waiting list to become a commercial lobsterman in Maine, and for years fishermen have been trying to figure out a way to make the licensing process work while protecting the health of the lobster population.
Now a bill that aims to accomplish both goals appears to be headed for a fight when it goes before the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee on Feb. 10.
The bill, if enacted, probably wouldn’t have an impact on lobster prices or consumers, especially in the short term. But it could affect who gets some of the roughly 5,800 commercial lobster licenses available statewide. It also could make a difference in areas where lobstering is the major industry or where the population of lobstermen is older.
“People who live in struggling coastal communities care about this,” said Rep. Walter Kumiega, D-Deer Isle, sponsor of the bill and House chairman of the Marine Resources Committee.
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