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In the News: October 2013

Marine patrol officer promoted Rene Cloutier, a 20-year veteran of the Maine Bureau of Marine Patrol, has been promoted to Lieutenant of Division I, which includes the Maine coast from Kittery to the St. George River. As Lieutenant, Cloutier will be responsible for planning, directing, supervising and evaluating all Marine Patrol activities within the Division. Lieutenant Cloutier replaces Major Jon Cornish, who served as Division I Lieutenant for the previous nine years before his recent promotion. Prior to his promotion, Lieutenant Cloutier served seven years as a Marine Patrol Sergeant based in West Boothbay Harbor. During his years as Sergeant, Cloutier supervised the work of five Marine Patrol Officers and one Boat Specialist. He was also responsible for the investigation and successful prosecution of numerous violations of lobster fishery laws. In April 2013, Cloutier was responsible for investigating the state’s largest illegal elver possession case, in which $61,500 worth of illegally possessed elvers were seized and a New Hampshire man was convicted. Lieutenant Cloutier began his career in the Maine Marine Patrol in 1994, serving for seven years as a Marine Patrol Officer in Friendship.

2013-2014 shrimp season looks grim An indicator of the Gulf of Maine shrimp population has fallen to its lowest level on record, raising questions about whether the fishery should be shut down this coming winter. This summer's shrimp index was at its lowest point since the annual trawl survey began in 1984, said Maggie Hunter, a scientist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources who sits on a three-state technical committee that analyzes the data and recommends what the rules should be for the upcoming season. Regulators will use the survey when they meet this fall to decide the dates of this winter's shrimp-fishing season — or if there will be one at all. Scientists last year recommended shutting down the fishery, but regulators ended up setting a short season with a 74 percent cut in quota. In the end, the season was a bust because there were so few shrimp to catch. The bleak survey results are a blow for scores of fishermen who rely on shrimp in the winter when there are few other fishing opportunities. About 90 percent of the annual harvest is typically caught by Maine boats, with New Hampshire and Massachusetts accounting for the rest. The harvest averaged about 25 million pounds a year from 1969 to 1972 before falling to under 1 million pounds in 1977 and culminating in a closure of the fishery in 1978. There was a similar down cycle in the late 1990s and early last decade. The shrimp population doesn't look like it'll be bouncing back anytime in the next few years, Hunter said. Not only is there a dearth of shrimp, there are very few young shrimp that would normally be caught in three or four years as they reach market size, Hunter said. This is the third consecutive year there's been a shortage of young shrimp. The ASMFC’s Northern Shrimp Section meets on October 2 in Portsmouth, NH to discuss next steps for management of Northern Shrimp.

PETA video raises tempers Local law enforcement leaders say they will review a complaint filed by an animal rights group which wants criminal charges to be filed against Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster company over its processing of the seafood. District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau and Rockland police Chief Bruce Boucher both said they had received the complaint filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He pointed out that the animal cruelty statute in Maine covers all “sentient” animals. Attorney Stephen Hayes, who represents Linda Bean, said the claims by PETA were groundless. He said he does not consider a lobster to be a sentient animal. Bean’s processing plant in Rockland meets or exceeds all industry and government regulations and standards, Hayes said. He said the process used at the Rockland plant is nearly identical to those in all Maine and Canadian plan.

Used rope goes to a good cause During the last week of August, nineteen lobstermen from Vinalhaven to Trescott relinquished over 36,000 pounds of used groundline for an artistic cause. Orly Genger, the artist who created a massive rope sculpture for a New York City park in May 2013, will commence her next piece this fall, destined for Texas. Lobstermen were paid fifty cents per pound ($.50/lb). Participating lobstermen noted that this program does help them purchase replacement rope and is by far a better disposal method for their old rope than bringing it to a landfill. Most of the 18 tons of rope collected during August was in service for less than three years. The average weight of rope brought in during this collection was 1,875 pounds per lobsterman, with the highest being 3,750 pounds from a lobsterman in Stonington-Deer Isle.

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