top of page
  • MLCA

In the News: June 2015

Red tide threat modest again this year New England’s spring and summer red tides will be similar to those of the past three years, according to the 2015 Gulf of Maine red tide seasonal forecast. The forecast is the eighth such forecast issued by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and North Carolina State University. Red tide, a type of harmful algal bloom caused by the alga Alexandrium fundyense, produces a toxin that can lead to paralytic shellfish poisoning, which can result in serious or even fatal illness in humans who eat contaminated shellfish. In 2005, an unusually large red tide event caused $23 million in lost shellfish sales in Massachusetts and Maine. Woods Hole scientists will also maintain three robotic sensors called environmental sample processors (ESPs) at locations along the Maine coast throughout the spring and summer. This is the first year the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) will provide direct measurements of shellfish toxicity to researchers for comparison with ESP estimates in order to predict toxicity in shellfish.

Menhaden quota up slightly This spring the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) increased the quota for menhaden by 10 percent. The total allowable catch was set at 187,880 metric tons for 2015 and 2016, up from 170,800 tons for the past two years. In 2012 the ASMFC reported the stock of menhaden was experiencing overfishing and instituted a 20-percent reduction of the harvest. Earlier this year however, they reversed their opinion based on the 2014 stock assessment. The Commission found the fish’s spawning stock was near record levels and above historic averages.

New size limit on striped bass A new size limit on striped bass took effect in May, restricting Maine fishermen to one fish per day, 28 inches or greater. The new limit is in response to an addendum to the interstate striped bass fishery management plan approved last year by the ASMFC, which directed coastal states to reduce the harvest of striped bass by at least 25 percent beginning in 2015. Maine has a year-round recreational-only striped bass fishery. There are special regulations in effect from December 1 through June in the Kennebec, Sheepscot and Androscoggin Rivers and tributaries. The state’s previous daily bag limit also allowed recreational fishermen to keep one striped bass from 20 to 26 inches long, or greater than 40 inches.

Promotion in Marine Patrol Bureau Dan White, who has served as a Sergeant in the Maine Marine Patrol since 2011, was promoted in May to Lieutenant of Division I, which stretches from Kittery to the St. George River. Lieutenant White replaces Major Rene Cloutier who was promoted to Major earlier this year. Lieutenant White began his career with the Marine Patrol in 1997, serving as an Officer in the Bristol and Bremen area for nearly fifteen years. His duties included operating patrol vessels in the mid-coast area in addition to conducting patrols by land. In 2011, he received a promotion to Sergeant where he supervised, trained, directed and evaluated Marine Patrol Officers and Specialists. His responsibilities also included organizing and directing search and rescue operations and overseeing and conducting investigations. “Lieutenant White brings in-depth experience as a skilled and professional boat operator in addition to an extensive background in supervision to his new position,” said Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher.

Nova Scotia 2014 lobster landings break record In 2014, lobstermen in Nova Scotia’s LFA 33, the area between Halifax and Digby, caught nearly 13.2 million pounds (6,000 metric tons) of lobster. Lobstermen from LFA 34, the area around Yarmouth and the Bay of Fundy, caught an estimated 55 million pounds (25,000 metric tons). This is the most ever recorded for these areas. While official figures are not yet released, 2014 landings for Canada are estimated at 185 million pounds. Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist John Tremblay has been tracking lobster abundance in Nova Scotia for years. “Our commercial catch of lobster is the highest we’ve seen recorded going back to the 1800s, in LFA 33 and LFA 34, which is southwestern Nova Scotia,” Tremblay said. A variety of factors may be at work. There are fewer cod to eat juvenile lobster; climate change could be moving the lobster stocks north to colder water and in some areas the government has increased the legal size of lobster that can been caught.

LePage to visit Asia this fall on trade mission Gov. Paul LePage will be leading a delegation of Maine businesses and educational institutions on a trade mission to Japan and China this October, with the goal of luring investment to the state, attracting international students to Maine schools and promoting Maine exports, particularly lobsters. The trade mission, organized by the Maine International Trade Center and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, will visit the cities of Tokyo and Shanghai. The export demand for Maine lobster has shifted from traditional markets in Europe to Asia. The demand is fueled by the growing middle class in China. Export figures reflect the growing appetite in China for lobsters; Maine’s export revenues jumped from zero in 2007 to $15.2 million in 2013. China is now the top destination outside North America for Maine lobster.


bottom of page