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Meeting Roundup: February 2011

Lobster Zone Council Meetings Zone F council met on January 3 in Yarmouth. Matt Nixon from the State Planning Office gave a presentation on the status of ocean wind energy developments in the state. Members then discussed the two island limited entry proposals brought forth at the last meeting. Cliff Island’s wish to expand the number of licenses on the island from 11 to 15 was discussed favorably. Chebeague Island’s petition to increase island licenses from 31 to 36 generated more discussion. The island currently has two lobstermen on the waiting list for a license and two others in the apprentice program. The discussion focused on the increase in effort that might arise with the larger number of licenses. Zone council members agreed to start the referendum process for Cliff Island but wanted more discussion about the Chebeague Island proposal before moving ahead. Zone A council met on January 11 in Machias. Members elected Dwight Carver as vice-chairman. Carl Wilson from DMR gave an update on DMR science projects, including a summary of the Tenants Harbor trap density study results. Sarah Cotnoir of DMR gave a summary of the December Large Whale Take Reduction Team meeting. Then members discussed a petition from lobstermen from a specific harbor to allow just four traps per trawl in their area. The purpose of the petition was to prevent accidents and personal injuries as a result of trawls set over regular trap gear. After much discussion, the members agreed to send the request out to all the lobstermen in Zone A as a referendum. Zone G council met on January 19 in York. Sarah Cotnoir gave a summary of the December Large Whale Take Reduction Team meeting. She also presented a summary of marine-related bills that will be before the legislature this winter. Laura Ludwig from the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation spoke about upcoming derelict gear removal activities. Carl Vickerson, the new Marine Patrol officer for the region, was introduced. Then members discussed a suggestion to reduce the number of traps used in the Scarborough area from 800 to 600. No action was taken by council members.

MLA Directors meeting The Maine Lobstermen’s Association Board of Directors met at noon on January 4 in Belfast. The Board immediately went into executive session for approximately one hour to discuss leadership of the organization. As a result of the executive session, the MLA Directors unanimously supported the current slate of officers continuing to lead the organization. This slate of officers — David Cousens as President, Jim Dow as Vice President, Brian McLain as 2cnd Vice President and Arnie Gamage as Secretary/Treasurer — will be put before the Directors for a vote, following the Annual Meeting of the Members on March 4th at the Samoset in Rockland. The Directors, however, addressed an area of concern identified by the Board that MLA’s President speak only on behalf of the board, limiting his comments to represent association’s position. This was highlighted by concerns that many of our members believed that MLA supported trap limits, when in reality, the Board had not taken a position on this issue. The MLA Directors also discussed the need to form and executive committee to handle issues that arise between Directors meetings. The Board elected an executive committee to include MLA’s President, David Cousens; Vice-president, Jim Dow; and Kristan Porter. Patrice McCarron reported the MLA memberships are ahead of last year, gaining 86 new members. She reviewed the end-of-the-year profit and loss statements, which indicated that advertising in the newsletter has grown steadily in 2010 and the organization is in good financial standing. The 2011 budget also was reviewed. The MLA annual meeting is scheduled for March 4 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. The board discussed Marine Patrol and Golden V-notch awards. Seven Directors terms are expiring. The Directors asked Patrice to send letters to these Directors to see if they want to continue to serve on the Board. Members may also make nominations from the floor at the Annual Meeting. The Board discussed the change in leadership in Augusta. Patrice was directed to organize meetings with the Senate President, House Speaker, Governor and new DMR Commissioner in order to introduce the MLA to the new leadership and discuss policy directives for the lobster industry. Marketing and branding of Maine lobster, limited entry in the shrimp fishery, bait, whales and lobster industry representation on ASMFC were all identified as issues requiring immediate attention. The Directors tasked the Executive Committee to serve as a policy sub-committee to assist staff in keeping pace with the growing number of state-wide issues that the MLA will address in the upcoming year. Patrice said that more than 2,500 lobstermen in Maine signed up for the TAA program. Orientation meetings will be held in Portland, Rockland, Ellsworth and Machias areas. The orientation materials will be up on the web site soon. MLA will be hiring two new employees to help deliver this program to the lobster industry. Patrice extended an invitation to MLA Board members to join New England Aquarium whale scientists on a cruise to look for whales in Jordan’s Basin. David Cousens spoke about an ocean acidification workshop he had attended. Ocean acidification could have a very bad effect on hard-shelled creatures such as clams and lobsters. There will be a workshop on the topic at the Fishermen’s Forum. The board set its meeting schedule, meeting on the first Tues of the month from April through September at 5pm in Belfast.

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