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In the News: February 2011

Nova Scotia extends Georges Bank moratorium Nova Scotian Premier Darrell Dexter approved legislation in December to extend the Georges Bank Moratorium until at least 2022. The Nova Scotia government has taken a precautionary approach in regard to protecting the richest spawning and nursery area in the Canadian North Atlantic. Georges Bank yields close to a billion dollars in seafood harvested annually when both the Canadian and American fishing harvests are combined. A blowout or large spill on Georges Bank would not only affect the seafood industries of both countries, but the tourism industries as well. The legislation passed in the Nova Scotia legislature not only extends the Georges Bank moratorium for another 10 years, but any initiative by a future government to lift the moratorium in 2022 would require a public review. The Act was passed on December 10 with all party support.

Live Lobster closing delayed The closing on the sale of the former Stinson Seafood sardine cannery has been delayed. Live Lobster, based in Chelsea, Mass., has been working to buy the former cannery from Bumble Bee Foods since at least last August. In February 2010, Bumble Bee announced it planned to close the plant, which was the last remaining sardine cannery in the United States, because of federal reductions in herring catch limits. Antonio Bussone, president of Live Lobster, said that his firm had hoped to close on the deal in January, but that it likely will be another few weeks before Live Lobster can take ownership of the plant. “We need to get in and start working,” Bussone said. “If we delay a little bit, it’s not a big deal.” Bussone declined to indicate why the closing was being delayed, but said financing is not the issue. A former business partner of Bussone’s had filed a lawsuit last June against Live Lobster in federal court in Massachusetts, claiming that he was wrongfully terminated from his job with the company. The lawsuit complicated the sale of the cannery to Live Lobster because it prevented the company from using its existing assets as collateral in lining up financing for the purchase. According to documents on file with U.S. District Court in Boston, the parties agreed December 30 to have the lawsuit dismissed. Bussone said the lawsuit has been “absolutely resolved” and was not the reason the closing did not happen. “We have the financing in place,” Bussone said.

In Memoriam Jed "Red" Miller of Tenants Harbor passed away on January 17. His son, Tad Miller, a member of the MLA Board of Directors, lobsters from Matinicus. Our condolences to the entire Miller family.

Monhegan man plans Tenants Harbor lobster plant Kyle Murdock wants to open a lobster processing facility in the former Great Eastern Mussel building in Tenants Harbor. Murdock grew up in a lobstering family on Monhegan Island. His father and brother both fish for a living. Murdock left Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he was studying physics and differential mathematics, to focus all his attention on starting up the lobster processing facility. “This area is in pretty bad need of jobs,” says Murdock, “and the lobster industry itself is in pretty bad need of more people to buy lobster. I think we can fulfill both those needs at once.” Murdock estimates it will cost about $750,000 to get the plant up and running. He has basic financing from a local bank, and has applied for a Community Development Block Grant from the state. Murdock says he does have some private investors as well, but needs a few more. And while he has never run a processing plant himself, Murdock says he is getting help and advice from a number of people who have. He hopes to have the plant open by mid-summer, and to employ close to 45 people in the five month season.

Atlantic Fishermen photos on exhibit in Ellsworth Commercial fishing in New England is the theme of an exhibit of historic photography now on display at The Maine Grind, 192 Main Street, Ellsworth. "Images from The Atlantic Fisherman" is free to the public and will run through March 31, 2011. The exhibit, with photos dating back to the early 1920s, was compiled by Penobscot Marine Museum's photography archivist Kevin Johnson and curator Ben Fuller. The black and white images, which originally appeared in the trade newspaper The Atlantic Fisherman, show working boats and crews, shore-based fishing methods, and shoreside processing activities. "By the 1920's, internal combustion engines dominated the fisheries," said Fuller. "Fishing schooners were being fitted with auxiliary engines, and new engine-based fishing methods like the otter trawl were being introduced. Engine and gear makers needed to make sales and The Atlantic Fisherman provided a vehicle for advertising. The exhibit shows the fishermen of the engine revolution (and one who resisted it) and the changes in craft and working waterfronts." The earliest trade publication for New England's fishing industry, The Atlantic Fisherman was founded in Boston in 1919. (It was later was absorbed into National Fisherman, which is still being published.) Penobscot Marine Museum received much of the publisher's early records, including almost 2,000 photographic negatives and prints, from its past president, Gardner Lamson.

Matinicus Rock returns at last Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced on January 27 that the Matinicus Rock weather station has been permanently repaired. The station had been off-line for two years. The Coastal Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) station on Matinicus Rock posts real-time weather and wind data online. The station is maintained by NOAA. Pingree first wrote to NOAA in December 2009 after hearing from local fishermen that the station was down. NOAA made a temporary fix in March 2010, but due to a severe storm, the station quickly went down again. “Having this station down for so long has made an incredibly dangerous situation for those who operate boats in Penobscot Bay. If you were a fisherman leaving Rockland, you might not know what conditions you’d get out at the mouth of the bay,” said Pingree. “I’m relieved that NOAA has set up new equipment and I am glad the fix is permanent. Knowledge of changing weather conditions is critical to our coastal economy.”

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