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In the News: February 2013

Safety regulations delayed The U.S. Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2010 provision requiring all commercial fishing vessels operating more than three miles from the coast to have dockside inspections was changed in the 2012 Reauthorization Act. Dockside inspections now must be completed by October 15, 2015, rather than by 2012. The reauthorized law also extends the amount of time required between inspections from two years to five. Prior to the 2010 Act, fishing vessel safety inspections were voluntary. Only about 30 percent, or 700 out of 2,100 licensed fishing boats, had completed their inspections by the October, 2012, deadline, said Kevin Plowman, Coast Guard inspector for southern Maine and part of New Hampshire.

DMR plants salmon eggs in Maine rivers Maine Department of Marine Resources biologists have been seeding Maine rivers this winter with fertilized salmon eggs as part of a multi-year NOAA salmon restoration grant. The eggs, fertilized last fall at Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Ellsworth, were planted in man-made redds in the Sheepscot and Sandy Rivers. If all goes well, the salmon will hatch by the end of May. After living in freshwater for two years, they'll swim downstream to the Atlantic Ocean before returning to the rivers to spawn. The department is in its second year of a five-year NOAA grant, which funds the Atlantic salmon restoration efforts. More than 3,000 salmon returned to Maine rivers to spawn in 2011. But in 2012 only around 700 salmon (624 in the Penobscot River alone) returned from sea.

MSC certification road reaching an end A multi-year effort to obtain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainability certification for Maine’s lobster fishery is nearing completion. Intertek Moody Marine of Canada completed its assessment report on the fishery in December, 2012. The London-based Marine Stewardship Council is expected to make a final determination by early spring. Restaurants, retail stores and consumers across the globe want to buy seafood that has been certified sustainable. The effort to have Maine’s lobster fishery MSC-certified began in 2008 and has cost between $250,000 and $300,000 thus far, which has been paid for through private donations.

Hard times hit Gulf of Maine cod fishermen The New England Fishery Management Council announced in mid-January that New England cod stocks remain depleted. Two separate stock assessments conducted in December, 2012, indicated that Gulf of Maine cod and Georges Bank cod stocks continue to be in poor condition. The information in the report about Georges Bank cod was similarly negative. Landings of inshore or Gulf of Maine cod, already cut by 22 percent for the 2012 fishing year that ends April 30, could be further reduced by between 76.8 percent and 82.6 percent for each of the next three years, according to the Council.

Offshore wind power project wins PUC approval In late January in a 2-to-1 vote the state’s Public Utilities Commission approved the terms of an offshore wind power project proposal by the Norwegian energy company Statoil. In approving the Hywind Maine project, the commission set conditions that it hopes will hold Statoil accountable for the commitments it's making to Maine. Statoil has promised to use local suppliers in planning and building the wind project located in the waters off Boothbay Harbor "to the greatest extent possible." Statoil estimated that those companies would likely employ 150 people full time during peak construction. The company also pledged to locate its project operations center in Maine. It already has established a collaborative research and development relationship with the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center for materials testing. Statoil also pledged good-faith efforts to award contracts representing at least 10 percent of capital spending, or $100 million, to qualified Maine-based suppliers and contractors. The rate that Statoil will charge Central Maine Power Company (CMP) for electricity generated by the turbines will be 27 cents. That figure is above current electricity market rates and would total more than $186 million over the 20-year contract. It’s unlikely, however, that CMP customers will feel that cost acutely. For an average household, which uses 550 kilowatt hours a month, it would add roughly 75 cents to an $82.50 monthly bill. The higher cost to CMP customers, said the assenting PUC members, is tempered by the chances of Maine becoming a center of excellence for offshore wind power. That in turn would create jobs and attract talented young people to the state.

We're talking lobster!

On Thursday, January 24 Annie Tselikis joined fellow members of the Maine Seafood Marketing Network, Sam Grimley from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Dana Morse of Maine Sea Grant on “Maine Calling” a 45-minute long call in show on MPBN Radio to discuss sustainable Maine seafood. Annie advocated for increased investment in the marketing and promotion of Maine lobster and the need to reinvest in the Maine lobster brand.

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