Today marks the start of the 43rd annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine.

You can set store by a few things about the forum every year — the conference program will be fantastic, the aisles will be full, the weather will be snotty and the plates will be loaded with local seafood.

The National Fisherman booth at the Maine Fishermen's Forum in 2017. NF photo.

This year, NMFS Director Chris Oliver will headline the open forum with NOAA at 2:45 on Friday. He’ll be joined by Michael Ruccio, the acting administrator for the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office in Gloucester, Mass., and other regional representatives.

Lobstermen should report en masse for feedback on ropeless traps (any coincidence that “ropeless" autocorrects to “hopeless”?) and right whale entanglements on Friday at 1 p.m. The panel includes the Maine Lobstermen Association’s new president, Kristan Porter, along with representatives from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the New England Aquarium and GARFO.

Make your voice heard! Island Fishermen’s Wives, Maine Sea Grant, FirstCoast.org, the Island Institute and the College of the Atlantic are teaming up to record the voices of the fishing industry. This crew is camping out for the whole forum — 10 to 10 every day — in a refurbished Airstream parked out front.

Other hot topics include herring and elver management, the future of the lobster industry in Maine, scallop aquaculture and electronic monitoring. And as usual, National Fisherman will be in the State of Maine Hall, across from the Rockland, Rockport and Camden rooms on the lower level.

You’ll find no shortage of show specials, fresh seafood and rooms packed with the industry decision makers and stakeholders from across the country. Join us at the forum this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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