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From the Dock: Sustainability and the Maine lobster industry

  1. Buyer and/or Processor transparency (perception of price fixing).

  2. Marketing ( Note; if it is not working then change it and hold the marketing people accountable.)

  3. Private-Public Partnerships, meaning various state agencies focus and collaborate together with the fishermen on all business aspects of fishing.

  4. Aggressive branding and label protection of the “Maine” product.

  5. Find solutions to minimize mortality rates from “boat to restaurant.”

  6. Licensed fishermen via their zone council should initiate a discussion to consider organizing as a associated membership to collectively bargain for minimum sustainable “boat price.”

  7. Improve revenue reporting. Final thoughts: The idea of possible latent fishing effort as an impediment to the sustainability of lobster fishing is more of an anecdotal worry than probable threat to the fishery. Available data suggest that the latency as a percentage is one of affordable hedging by the license holder. There is certainly some frustration with the management of licenses relative to zone entry and exit ratios. The tag-based ratio is flawed. Basically, the latent statistics can be used as an artificial protective barrier against entry. An active fisherman’s best friend is another latent or less active fisherman. That said, the statistics from the 2011 report would indicate that the 296 people awaiting entry represent an overall increase of just six percent in licenses and a nine percent increase in tags based on the average ratio of licenses to tags or roughly 583 tags (not traps!) per license. Please note the overall increase is state-based and not zone-based. We need to focus on the industry as a free enterprise business with methodical, pragmatic oversight and accountability. This requires a leadership focus and effort in bringing business and labor knowledge to the forefront by using best available business techniques and technology for success. Thanks for listening and best regards, Michael J. Ames Zone C, District-9, Lic.No. 4300

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to DMR commissioner Patrick Keliher. Mr. Ames fishes from Matinicus Island.

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