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Maine Lobstermen’s Association update: July 2014

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MLA Comments on Vertical Line Rules The final whale rule to reduce the risk of whale entanglement in vertical lines was published on June 27. The final rule is identical to measures proposed in the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement). For Maine, the final whale rule includes minimum trawling up requirements by zone and distance from shore and increased gear marking(three 12” marks on the buoy line)in waters outside the exemption line. There are no new rules in exempted state waters, and no seasonal fishing area closures. The whale rules go into effect on June 1, 2015.

Minimum Trawling Up Requirments_web

Gear ConflictsNova Star The MLA has received numerous complaints from MLA members over gear loss due to the operations of the passenger vessel Nova Star transiting between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. DMR’s Marine Patrol has taken the lead in discussions with the Nova Star, to identify the coordinates of the vessel’s route in order to avoid gear conflict. The Nova Star has assured Marine Patrol that the vessel will not stray more than 25 meters each side of this line: WP # 15:  N43  37  W070  05 WP # 16:  N43  37  W069  20 WP # 17:  N43  40  W068  42 The daily vessel track can be monitored through AIS at, searching for the vessel NOVA STAR . Ferdinand Hassler MLA received word in late June that the Ferdinand Hassler is working in Rhode Island Sound. The vessel is not expected to work again in Maine waters this calendar year. The Hassler can be tracked via NOAA’s ship tracker Web site at NOAA has made tentative plans to attempt to work in Maine in January and/or February, 2015. NOAA has never attempted to conduct hydrographic survey operations in winter, but in response to correspondence from the lobster industry, the agency hopes to make the attempt since trap density will be at a minimum this time of year. If you have lost gear due to interactions with the NOAA research vessel, you may apply for reimbursement of the lost traps. Claims will be considered to reimburse for lost gear, but will not be considered for loss of catch or fishing time associated with the lost gear. Note: claims submitted previously have taken a year or more to be paid. Questions or concerns can be addressed to the ship’s Field Operations Officer via phone at: (603) 812-8748 or via email at: To submit a claim: Notify your local Marine Patrol Officer if you believe you have lost gear due to conflict with the survey vessel. Prepare a written statement describing lost gear, the quantity and value of gear and coordinates of where the gear was lost and on what date. Your written statement should include a detailed description of the gear, including a photo when possible. You will have to sign an affidavit swearing to this information. Marine Patrol will submit your claim to a NOAA enforcement agent Ultimately, NOAA will plot the location of when and where you claimed gear was lost against the actual operations of the vessel. This process is very lengthy. MLA Directors Meeting The MLA Directors met on June 4 in Belfast. Aaron Dority, the Downeast Groundfish Initiative director at Penobscot East Resource Center (PERC), discussed a federal regulation proposed by the New England Fishery Management Council to protect bottom habitat for groundfish by closing two areas in eastern Maine to federally permitted vessels using mobile bottom gear (groundfish trawl and scallop dredge, but not lobster gear). One of these closures may also exclude gillnet and hook gear. MLA Directors raised several issues and concerns over the proposal. Dority also discussed a proposed regulation that would cap accumulation of groundfish quota to preserve fleet diversity and prevent excessive consolidation. PERC has been a strong supporter of fleet diversity, building support for this proposed federal regulation during the last four years. Carla Guenther updated the MLA Board on PERC’s work to review the commercial fishing licensing structure. A few years ago PERC held 18 meetings statewide and received input from 200 fishermen. The project seeks to re-envision the commercial licensing system in a way that would support thriving fishing communities in the future. MLA Directors carefully reviewed the Preferred Alternative identified by NMFS in the Final Environmental Impact Assessment (FEIS) to implement vertical line regulations. The directors tasked Patrice with submitting comments from MLA (see above). The directors also supported reiterating MLA’s request for a safe trawl equivalency for vessels fishing beyond 12 miles from shore which cannot safety handle the proposed large trawls. MLA directors expressed frustration over the current lobster market conditions which are the result of strong Canadian catches. Many Canadian lobstermen were put on quotas or were not able to land the catch daily. While Maine’s lobster landings have been light, the Canadian supply is affecting the Maine boat price. MLA will continue to closely monitor the market conditions, communicate with our Canadian counterparts, and attend Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative meetings to monitor progress of the new marketing efforts. It was stressed that despite the difficult market conditions, Maine lobstermen must keep an upbeat message in dealing with the media. Seven members of the Maine Lobster Leadership Institute attended the MLA meeting to update the Board on the PEI trip. During the PEI trip, young Maine lobstermen were able to fish on lobster boats, tour processing plants and holding infrastructure. The group cited the relationships created between their counterparts in Maine, as well as with lobstermen in PEI, as the greatest reward from the experience. The leadership program has already sparked many participants to become more involved in the Maine lobster industry. Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance (MLCA), which organized the trip, will seek funding to continue to offer future leadership programs. The MLA Board reviewed the status of the proposed Searsport dredge project and the University of Maine offshore wind project. The Area 1A herring fishery opened on June 1. The MLA is monitoring the Area 3 herring fishery haddock bycatch limit which could result in an early closure of Area 3 fishery this fall. The MLA is celebrating its 60th anniversary, which will serve as the theme for the upcoming membership renewal. All new and renewing MLA members will receive a 60th anniversary hat and be entered into a drawing to win $1954 as part of the celebration (the year the MLA was founded). MLA will hold candidates meetings again this fall to provide an opportunity for candidates running for state legislature to learn about the lobster industry. The MLA will also coordinate an event with the gubernatorial candidates and the MLA Board. The next MLA meeting is July 9 at Darby’s at 5 p.m.

How to Obtain Replacement Tags A lobsterman can receive a maximum of 10% replacement tags. If you need more than 10%, it is considered a catastrophic loss and all tags will need to be reissued. Replacement tags are issued in lots of 20, up to the 10 % maximum. To obtain your replacement tags: You must complete and sign “Trap Tag Exchange/Replacement Certification” form stating that you have lost trap traps. The form is available on the DMR website: or at any DMR office, or through local Marine Patrol Officers. Marine Patrol Officers do NOT need to sign off on this form. Bring the completed “Trap Tag Exchange/Replacement Certification” to a Maine DMR Enforcement office to receive your tags on the spot. DMR Headquarters, Hallowell (624-6571). Division I Office, Boothbay Harbor (633-9595) Division II Office, Lamoine (667-3373) Field Office, Rockland (596-2267) Some Marine Patrol Officers carry replacement tags with them. You can complete the “Trap Tag Exchange/Replacement Certification” form and receive your replacement tags. If your local MPO does not have replacement tags on hand, mail the form to DMR in Hallowell (Maine DMR, 21 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333) and you will receive your replacement tags in the mail.

MLA hosts Australian Whale Scientist The MLA hosted Jason How, a biologist with the Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratories, in June. How is conducting research on whale entanglements in lobster gear which has seen a sharp rise in Western Australia in recent years. His trip to New England and visits with Maine lobstermen was to learn about fishing gear modifications that have been put in place to reduce entanglement. The MLA arranged for How to visit with Kristan Porter in Cutler, David Cousens in Spruce Head, Steve Train on Long Island and MLA staff, to learn about the changes which have been implemented in Maine’s lobster fishery.

What’s in a Name? The MLA represented Maine lobster at a conference sponsored by the American Origin Products Research Foundation to discuss the importance of protecting origin-based products. The AOP Research Foundation was created to document U.S. origin-based products and contribute to a national system of recognition and protection for them. Regionally identified foods, such as Idaho potato, Napa Valley wine, or Maine lobster, are among the best known and highest valued products of the U.S. They enjoy a strong reputation for quality and have a large impact on rural economies. These products offer variety of choice to consumers while preserving local traditions and cultural heritage. In addition they are thriving as export trade items, with ever increasing demand abroad. This conference provided a producer’s perspective on how important origin products are for harvesters and local communities.

Potential Offshore Herring Fishery Closure During its June meeting in Portland, the New England Fishery Management Council considered a proposal from the herring midwater trawl fleet to raise the bycatch allowance on haddock. This request was soundly defeated in a 10-0 vote. The midwater trawl fleet fishing in Area 3 around Georges Bank is reportedly on track to exceed its bycatch of haddock in September. If the fleet reaches its haddock bycatch allowance, the Area 3 fishery will be limited to 2,000 pounds of herring per trip, effectively closing the Area 3 herring fishery. This will not affect the seine fleet working on the Area 1A quota. Midwater trawl vessels do not gain access to Area 1A until October 1. The MLA has supported increased observer coverage and adherence to bycatch limits to protect the groundfish fleet.

Lobster Processing Bond The Associated Press published an article in June referencing a $7 million lobster processing bond. The so-called lobster processing bond passed the Legislature as LD 1709 An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support the Growth of and To Build Infrastructure for the Marine Sector of the State’s Economy. This $7 million bond proposal will appear on the November ballot and does not specifically address lobster processing. If this bond is approved in November, bond money must be awarded on a competitive basis, after a proposal review process, for a single award of $7,000,000, requiring one-to-one matching funds. The Legislation states that a successful applicant must include the following entities: A marine-based research program at a private or public university or a nonprofit research institution; Commercial fishing or aquaculture interests; Community-based organizations committed to the growth of the local economy; and Private sector businesses. Furthermore, a successful application must also include proposals for growth in each of the following areas: Traditional commercial fishing interests; aquaculture industry; value-added seafood processing; and market development for Maine-based products.

ASMFC Northern Shrimp Section The ASFMC Northern Shrimp Section met in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in early June. The Section approved development of Draft Amendment 3 to consider establishing a limited entry program for the northern shrimp fishery. While the fishery is managed through a total allowable catch and defined season, it remains an open access fishery and has experienced significant fluctuations in participation over the last 30 years. This open access, coupled with continued concern about the health of the stock, led the Section to move forward on a limited entry program to further control effort in the fishery.

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