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In the News: August 2013

Offshore wind power project on hold Statoil North America decided in July to halt efforts to develop an offshore wind energy project twelve miles off Boothbay Harbor because of legislative changes to the state’s energy policy contained in LD 1472, which passed in the final moments of the session. Those changes stalled Statoil’s already approved project while allowing the University of Maine a second chance to submit a proposal for an offshore wind project to the state. As a result, Statoil told the Maine Public Utilities Commission that it would put development of the Hywind Maine project on hold until the fall. Governor LePage stipulated that the University’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center be allowed to bid on the project, despite the fact that the university chose not to bid when the project was first proposed three years ago. The measure gives the university until the first of September to submit its own proposal. Yet university officials have admitted that the school does not have the capacity to do such a project on its own and requires the support of a private corporation such as Statoil.

P.E.I. happy, New Brunswick lobstermen angry The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) declared that the minimum size for a legally-caught lobster in Northumberland Strait off Prince Edward Island will increase slightly this year. The minimum carapace will increase to 72 mm this year, up from 71 mm in 2012. The fall lobster season in the Northumberland Strait began on August 9. P.E.I. lobstermen expressed pleasure at the decision. The island has a strong cannery industry that processes the smaller lobsters for lucrative niche markets. New Brunswick lobstermen, on the other hand, wanted a greater size increase in order to meet demand for larger lobsters from their buyers. DFO Minister Keith Ashfield said he had been hoping an industry-driven consensus on the minimum legal size for lobster could be reached. "The lack of agreement has reluctantly required me to make a decision in order for the season to open as planned. The department will review the findings of the independent Maritime lobster panel set up by the provincial governments of P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick before any future changes on carapace size are taken for the 2014 fishery or beyond," Ashfield said.

Massachusetts passes tails law In July Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the state’s 2014 budget that included an amendment allowing processed and frozen lobster tails to be possessed and sold in state for the first time. The change comes after similar decisions in Maine and other New England states, which had bans in place but decided to allow for sales of American lobster tails in recent years. Before deciding to follow suit, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries completed a study that recommended modernizing the law to allow in-state sales of tails, citing a lobster surplus and growing demand from consumers for a no-fuss lobster product. Tails sold in the state must weigh at least three ounces. The aim, said a Provincetown legislator, is to increase demand for Massachusetts lobsters and increase the price per pound paid to lobstermen.

Another Canadian lobster fishery receives MSC Certification

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine lobster fishery, located within the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, received MSC certification in July. Seasonal lobster fishing is an important economic activity for the islands’ population of approximately 13,000 people. Island lobstermen, who fish from 325 registered vessels, are now eligible to display the blue MSC ecolabel.

The catch of lobster in the lobster zone is restricted to the months of May and June, and the main commercial market for Magdalen Islands’ lobster is Quebec, with the majority sold fresh. This is the first inshore lobster fishery in Canada to gain MSC certification. The announcement was made by the Association des Pêcheurs Propriétaires des Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalen Islands Fishermen Owners Association), which petitioned for certification.


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