A two-week hiatus in the Maine menhaden fishery ended with the Atlantic States Fisheries Management Commission granting an additional 4.7 million pounds of quota, quelling worries about an impeding shortage of lobster bait.

The “episodic event fishery” that started July 15 won’t solve what has become a regular element of suspense for the industry. State officials reopened the season with additional effort controls, and reducing the weekly allowance from four trucks to three.

The harvest is restricted to state waters Monday through Thursday. The Department of Marine Resources had ordered a halt to the fishery June 30, after monitoring showed the fleet had exceeded the Maine annual quote of 2.4 million pounds by 1.5 million pounds – an overage of about 62 percent.

The ASMFC approved Maine’s request to extend the quota as the peak summer lobster season was tuning up with lobster molting. But in announcing the reopening, DMR officials warned fishermen against wasting pogies – echoing complaints heard earlier in the season, with reports that some boats dumped fish when they could not sell them.

“Make sure you have markets for your catch before setting on menhaden,” DMR Marine Patrol officials emphasized in a statement. “This waste of the menhaden is bad for the industry and the resource itself; it will not be tolerated.”

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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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