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  • MLCA

In the News: October 2014

New member of the MLMC Cyrus Sleeper, a harvester from South Thomaston, is the newest member of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative board of directors.  Sleeper was appointed by Commissioner Keliher to one of the four harvester seats on the board after being recommended by his zone council. He became interested in lobster marketing during a program organized by the Maine Lobstermen’s Association to promote young leaders in the lobster industry, in which they traveled to Prince Edward Island to learn about Canadian lobstering this past spring.

Machias Seal Island zone sees conflicts The disputed “gray zone” around Machias Seal Island has become a bone of contention again for Maine lobster fishermen who set traps in the region. Canadian fishermen also ply the disputed waters, and there are more of them this year. Canada operates a lighthouse on the island. However, both countries claim the island, said Col. Joe Fessenden, head of Maine’s Marine Patrol. Under a written agreement between the two countries, Canadian fishermen can work in the area under the laws and regulations of their country, and Maine fishermen can work under applicable state laws and regulations. The “gray zone” encompasses about 70 square miles around the island. About 20 Canadian boats fished in the area last year, but this season approximately 40 to 50 boats are fishing. About 20-25 boats from Cutler work in the area, although others from Eastport to Jonesport also set traps in the gray zone. Under Maine laws and regulations, fishermen return large lobsters to the water if they are caught in traps, but Canadian laws and regulations allow their fishermen to keep those same lobsters.

Maine lighthouses bring in the bucks The auction has closed for Halfway Rock Light in Harpswell with a winning bid of $283,000, which, if officially accepted by the federal government, would become the highest winning bid ever for a Maine lighthouse. The Halfway Rock Light auction is the second superlative lighthouse sale in as many months, closing about a month after New England’s tallest lighthouse — the 133-foot-tall Boon Island Light off York — sold at auction for $78,000 to Portland real estate developer Art Girard. Halfway Rock Light was built in 1871 and sits on a two-acre rock ledge off the tip of Harpswell’s Bailey Island. It is so named because it stands halfway between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small, about 10 miles east of the Portland Head Light. The granite tower is on the National Register of Historic Places.

DMR Trawl Survey this month The fall survey began in New Hampshire waters on September 29, and will finish up about October 31 off Grand Manan Channel. DMR staff will fish the first five good days each week, using the weekend to make up for bad weather or equipment problems. The trawl survey vessel is a white fiberglass Northeast 54’, the F/V Robert Michael of Portland, captained by Rob Tetrault. The bi-annual survey is designed to provide information that has not been available to NMFS for stock assessments. Obtaining this information is critical to making rational management decisions. DMR asks that on the scheduled day of the tow, an area 1/8th mile on either side of the tow line be clear of fixed gear. The vessel makes every effort to avoid contact with gear by making at least one and often two passes on the tow line. Clearing the area of gear avoids gear contact. Lobstermen may hail the boat on either channel 16 or 13. The crew cell phone is 207-557-5276.

Long Island Sound lobster fishery closed again Fishermen in Long Island Sound once again won’t be allowed to catch lobster for the next three months., from September 8 to November 28, as part of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) efforts to rebuild the lobster population in the Sound. In 1998, 3.7 million pounds of lobster were caught by commercial fishermen in Long Island Sound. In 2013, that number fell nearly 97 percent, to around 120,000 pounds, in part because of the closure. The decline in lobsters during the past decade had prompted the ASFMC to institute a 10 percent reduction in effort in order crease egg production in female lobsters. The three-month yearly closure is part of that effort.

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