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In the News: March 2013

Calling for old rope The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation (GOMLF) will purchase used groundlines or endlines from fishermen in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, through the end of March, 2013. Lobstermen and other fishermen who use fixed gear with groundlines (e.g. shrimp trap, gillnet, crab, sea bass, or hagfish fisheries) are encouraged to pre-register. A maximum of 20,000 pounds of rope will be collected. Fishermen will be paid fifty cents per pound ($.50/lb) for rope of 7/16”, 1/2” or 9/16” diameter. Rope can be any length of sink rope, poly, or “neutrally buoyant” rope. It must be fairly clean and coiled if possible. GOMLF will issue each fisherman a check on the day of collection. The rope will be used by an artist for land-based purposes only and will not circulate again in the fishery. For more information on the rope collections or to register, contact Laura Ludwig in Provincetown MA at 207-263-5300 or lldowneast@gmail.com.

Four elver licenses awarded Four new 2013 elver licenses were awarded by the Maine Department of Marine Resources in February. More than five thousand Mainers applied for the four available licenses. The total value of the elver fishery in 2012 was estimated at $40 million, second only in value to the lobsters. During the height of the 2012 season, elvers were valued at approximately $2,600 per pound. The licenses, selected through a lottery administered by Maine State Lottery officials, were awarded to Mark Wakem from Poland, Alyssa Orestis from Searsport, Meredith Perry from Spruce Head, and Garrett Lemoine from Swan’s Island. The new licenses are issued to replace those individuals who did not renew theirs in 2012. In addition, four existing dip net license holders were given the opportunity to change their gear to fyke net which, while  increasing potential income for the individuals, does not increase overall effort in the fishery. The fyke net lottery winners were Ryan Miller from Surry, Garrett Coffin from Nobleboro, Jason Brewer from Walpole, and Timothy Brewer from Nobleboro.

St. Croix River alewives subject of bills Maine’s state legislature will debate proposals that could see the St. Croix River finally re-opened to alewives.. L.D. 72, sponsored by State Rep. Madonna Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, is an emergency bill that would require the Grand Falls Dam fishway be opened to the "unconstrained passage of river herring" by May 1. A second bill, favored by Governor LePage, would be in accord with the Adaptive Management Plan developed under the auspices of the U.S.-Canadian International Joint Commission several years ago. The international plan prohibits alewives them from passing the next set of dams at Vanceboro and Grand Lake Stream. Biologists would carefully monitor the situation, stepping in to close fishways if alewives appeared to cause trouble at certain densities. The bill would start the gradual re-opening of the river next year. In 1995, the Maine legislature passed a law that ordered the fishways at the Woodland and Grand Falls dams closed to alewives because inland fishing guides feared the alewives would harm the smallmouth bass populations in the region's lakes and ponds. The St. Croix alewife runs collapsed to just 900 fish in 2002, a decline of 99.7 percent. In 2008 the Legislature revisited the issue, but ultimately decided to open only the Woodland Dam in Baileyville to the fish, depriving them of an estimated 94 percent of their habitat. Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency directed the state to allow the alewives beyond Grand Falls. The state Attorney General said that the agency's ruling was irrelevant. The Conservation Law Foundation has since sued the state in federal court to compel action.

Island Bizplan contest open to island residents The Island Institute has announced a new initiative designed to encourage and support entrepreneurs in Maine’s 15 year-round island communities. The Island Bizplan Contest, made possible through the Island and Coastal Innovation Fund (ICIF), the organization’s subsidiary, offers $10,000 in cash prizes and technical assistance to winners from business start-ups or emerging young companies. The contest will run from February 1 to April 12, and is open to commercial and nonprofit businesses that have physical addresses on Chebeague, Cliff, Frenchboro, Great Cranberry, Great Diamond, Islesboro, Islesford, Isle au Haut, Long, Monhegan, Matinicus, North Haven, Peaks, Swan’s and Vinalhaven islands. There is no fee to enter. One first-place award of $7,500 will go to the business or entrepreneur who submits the most commercially viable plan or to the nonprofit whose business plan is considered the most likely to achieve long-term sustainability for the organization. The winner will also receive ten hours of technical assistance. The second- and third-place awards of $2,000 and $500 will also include ten hours of professional support. Winners will be announced on May 1. Only on-line applications will be accepted. To apply, go to http://www.islandinstitute.org/icifislandbizplan.php.

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