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MLA Update: March 2014

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MLA Directors Meeting MLA Directors met on February 4 in Belfast. University of Maine researchers Jocelyn Runnebaum and Robert Boenish updated the Directors on their research on barotrauma in cusk and cod caught as bycatch in lobster traps. Runnebaum is leading a project on cusk, funded for two years through the Saltonstall-Kennedy grant program. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) assumes that all fish die when discarded unless there is data to provide the actual rate of mortality. The University is investigating whether or not cusk can survive recompression, since this has been successful on the west coast with rock fish. To date, the University has recruited nine lobstermen to fill out logbooks providing data on cusk bycatch seven of whom also take the researchers on their vessel. For the logbook portion of the project, lobstermen mark locations of cusk bycatch on their plotter, the condition of the fish, and record depth and bottom type. The cusk is returned to the bottom in the lobster trap. The lobstermen rehauls that trap a week later and notes whether the cusk is still present and the condition of the fish. Logbook data indicate that most cusk come to the surface alive, but barotrauma has presented most often with bulging eyes, and in some cases stomach eversion (hanging out of mouth or gills). Researchers have noted that trap haul speed is not thought to impact condition of the fish because cusk exchange air very slowly in their system. Preliminary results indicate that cusk survival from recompression is about 80%, however the fish generally do not leave the traps on their own. Researchers are seeking input from lobstermen on simple ways to get the fish back to the bottom and release them. They are also looking to expand this project to investigate barotrauma in cod bycatch this spring and are seeking lobstermen to fill out logbooks and host researchers aboard their vessels. Two UMaine students, who are also lobstermen, are working on drafting surveys for the lobster industry. One will deal with lobstermen’s observations of shell disease, the other with lobstermen’s observations of cod bycatch. David Cousens updated the board on his idea to get feedback from the industry on how to maintain the price and profitability of the 2014, by landing good quality lobster and not oversupplying the market with shedders early in the season. He outlined his thoughts in a column printed in the February newsletter, and has talked to many lobstermen including the Zone D Council, as well as a few dealers.


Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) met in February in Rockland. MLMC continues to work with the agency Weber Shandwick to implement a marketing plan. The goal of the marketing effort is to stabilize the price of Maine lobster. Strategies will include building seasonal demand when supply of Maine lobster is greatest, focusing on provenance and the Maine story, focusing on upscale casual restaurants, and working with chefs to keep Maine lobster on menus. The MLMC website will be revamped and social media presence expanded. MLMC will hold its annual meeting for the lobster industry on Friday, March 6, during the Maine Fishermen’s Forum. MLMC will have a booth at the Seafood Expo North America (Boston Seafood Show) and will have four companies (Sea Salt, Maine Coast, SeaView and The Lobster Company) co-exhibit. MLMC is holding a reception on Monday night. MLMC will also participate in Culinary Institute of America Flavor Summit.

Draft Addendum XXIV approved for Public Comment The Commission’s February American Lobster Management Board approved Draft Addendum XXIV to Lobster Fishery Management Plan for public comment. The draft Addendum responds to recently finalized trap transfer regulations for the federal waters of Lobster Conservation Management Areas 2, 3, and Outer Cape Cod. While the majority of the implemented federal measures are based on ASMFC recommendations and are consistent with the management plan, there are a few measures which required further consideration. Specifically, the Draft Addendum includes options to better align state and federal measures regarding the conservation tax on trap allocations when whole fishing businesses are transferred, trap allocation transfer increments, and restrictions on trap allocation transfers among permit holders who are authorized to fish both state and federal waters within a single lobster management area. The Board also approved Maryland’s request to remove the mandatory season closure for LCMA 5 in April and May. LCMA 5 will remain closed for February and March, and will reopen in April. Further management for the areas will be considered when the benchmark stock assessment is finalized, which will be in 2015.

Good news on Atlantic Menhaden

Menhaden fishing mortality

AMSFC Seeks input on Future Shrimp Management The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Northern Shrimp Section approved the Public Information Document (PID) to get input on potential changes to shrimp management. In general, the Commission is seeking input on limited entry for use in the future if and when the stock recovers and the fishery is re-opened. While the fishery is currently 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. The PID states, “Recently, the northern shrimp resource has experienced three successive years of recruitment failure. In addition, abundance and stock biomass indices in recent years are the lowest on record. Changing environmental conditions paired with fluctuating effort in the fishery have resulted in uncertainties in the future status of the northern shrimp resource. Limited entry has been used in other fisheries to control fishing effort which stabilizes fishing pressure on the resource. An amendment to the plan is necessary to establish a limited entry program in the northern shrimp fishery.” As the first step in the Commission’s amendment process, the PID provides an opportunity for the public to identify and comment on major issues relative to the management of this species. The shrimp PID seeks comments on five issues: limited entry to the fishery; state-by-state quota allocations; the specification process to set quota for the fishery and allocations for trawl and trap sectors; goals and objectives for the shrimp fishery and; other issues which would address how fishermen would like to see the shrimp fishery managed in the future. Following the initial phase of information-gathering and public comment, the Section will evaluate potential management alternatives and develop Draft Amendment 3 for public review. After the public comment period, the Section will specify the management measures to be included in Amendment 3. ASMFC estimates that the Amendment could be finalized in the early 2016. Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the PID either by attending public hearings or providing written comments. Public comment will be accepted until April 15, 2015. Public hearings have been scheduled in Maine on March 7 at 1 p.m. at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum; March 30 at 6 p.m. at the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal; and in New Hampshire on March 3 at 7 p.m. at the Urban Forestry Center. The PID can be obtained at the Commission’s website,, under Public Input.

NMFS Proposes to Designate Gulf of Maine as Right Whale Critical HabitatNOAA press release

GOM RW habitat

Herring Annual Catch Limits for 2015

Draft Marine Mammal Stock Assessments NMFS released the draft Marine Mammal Stock Assessments for 2014; public comments are due April 29. North Atlantic Right whales (period from 2008-2012) Minimum population estimate: 465 New calves: 106 <110 born and 4 died> There has been a significant increase in the number of catalogued whales with a growth rate of 2.8%; “suggests a positive and slowly accelerating trend in population size.” PBR (potential biological removal): 0.9 Human Caused Serious Injury and Mortality: 4.75 Ship strikes 0.9 Entanglement: 3.85 Gulf of Maine Humpback whales (period from 2008-2012) Minimum population estimate: 823 PBR (potential biological removal): 2.7 Human Caused Serious Injury and Mortality: 10.15 Ship strikes 1.4 Entanglement: 8.75 Known gear: 1 U.S. monofilament hook; 3 gillnet (2 U.S., 1 CN); 1 CN weir; 3 pot (2 U.S., 1 CN).

2015 Lobster Fishery Entrants


Pesticide Research Along Maine Coast In 2014, the Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) convened an Environmental Risk Advisory Committee (ERAC) to “examine whether current pesticide residues have the potential to affect the lobster industry in Maine directly or via impact on other marine organisms.” The ERAC was formed after a bill to ban the use of two mosquito pesticides (resmethrin and methoprene) was voted down in favor of conducting research on which pesticides might pose the greatest threat to Maine’s marine resources. Additionally, BPC staff conducted a review of all the pesticide active ingredients used in Maine to determine the top priorities in relation to lobster. The review generated a list of 725 pesticide active ingredients, further refined to those likely to be found in sediments. The priority compounds identified for analysis include pyrethrins, synthetic pyrethroids (including resmethrin), methoprene and fipronil. In the late summer of 2014, sediment samples from 20 sites across Maine were collected based on proximity to inlets that drain developed agricultural areas and the presence of fine grained sediments in order to cover all watersheds. Two labs analyzed the samples. One lab detected bifenthrin (a synthetic pyrethroid) at 11 of the 20 sample sites and cypermethrin (a synthetic pyrethroid) at one site. Neither methroprene or resmethrin were detected. Additional research will be conducted in 2015. Sampling sites will include areas where lobster is likely to settle. Also in 2015, Maine DEP will conduct sampling of lobster at 40 sites around the state as part of its ongoing monitoring.

Lobster bills in the legislatureMarine Resources Committee LD 98 An Act Amending the Trap Limit for the Swans Island Lobster Conservation Area This bill increases the number of traps that an individual registered to obtain Swans Island Lobster Conservation Area trap tags may place or maintain in the Swans Island Lobster Conservation Area from 550 to 600. Sponsored by Sen Langley. LR 776 An Act To Establish a Limited Lobster and Crab Commercial License This bill has not been printed . Sponsored by Rep. Kumiega. LD 491 An Act To Lower from 70 to 65 the Age at Which a Person May Obtain a Lobster and Crab Fishing License for a Reduced Fee This bill lowers the age at which a person may obtain a lobster and crab fishing license for a reduced fee from 70 to 65 years of age (Class I $66, Class II $136, Class III $203). Sponsored by Rep. Gilway. LD 492 An Act To Expand Eligibility for Lobster and Crab Fishing Licenses for Veterans (Emergency) This bill provides that an honorably discharged veteran who began military service prior to November 1, 2015, previously held a lobster or crab fishing license that was not revoked or suspended and reported lobster or crab landings to the DMR under that license is eligible to obtain a Class I, Class II or Class III lobster and crab fishing license. They would not need to complete the Apprentice Program or go on a waiting list. Sponsored by Rep. Kumiega. LD 490 An Act To Extend the Legal Hours for Harvesting Lobster This bill extends the legal hours to harvest lobster during the summer closed period. Currently, it is unlawful to raise or haul any trap during the period ½ hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise from June 1 to October 31. This proposal would extend the legal fishing hours during September and October to begin two hours before sunrise. Sponsored by Rep. Kumiega. LR 1315 An Act To Improve Lobster Licensing This bill has not been printed . Sponsored by Rep. Alley. LR 775 An Act To Increase Entry into Lobster Fishery This bill has not been printed. Sponsored by Rep. Kumiega. LD 563 An Act Regarding the Purchase of Trap Tags in the Lobster Fishery This bill requires the DMR Commissioner to establish by rule a minimum landings threshold for Class I, Class II or Class III lobster license holders to be eligible to purchase the maximum number of trap tags. If the license holder does not report the required landings, the license holder is not eligible to purchase more than 300 trap tags in any subsequent license year. This bill also provides that a holder of a Class I, Class II or Class III lobster license who has not reported any lobster or crab landings during the 2 years prior to January 1, 2015 may not purchase more than 300 trap tags in the license year beginning in 2016. Sponsored by Rep. Kumiega. LD 493 An Act To Create the Ocean Acidification Council This bill establishes the Ocean Acidification Council to identify, study, prevent, remediate and mitigate the direct and indirect effects of coastal and ocean acidification on species that are commercially harvested and grown in the State’s coastal and ocean environments. It provides for 16 council members, including two members of the Senate, three members of the House of Representatives, two representatives of an environmental or community group, three persons who fish commercially, including at least one aquaculturist, three scientists and the Commissioner of Marine Resources, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection and the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or those commissioners’ designees. This bill also requires the council to submit an annual report to the Legislature and authorizes the council to accept funding from outside sources and contains a provision repealing the laws establishing the council December 31, 2018. Sponsored Rep. Devin. LR 114 An Act to Address Ocean Acidification This bill is not printed. Sponsored by Rep. Devin. LD 427 An Act To Address and Mitigate the Effects of Marine Debris  This bill is a concept draft which proposes to enact measures to address and mitigate plastic pollution in the marine environment, including but not limited to microdebris pollution. For the purpose of this resolve, “microdebris” means particles of plastic approximately 5 to 10 microns in length that may be ingested by filter-feeding organisms in the marine environment. Sponsored by Rep. Devin. LR 1490 An Act To Allow Retired Marine Patrol Officers To Obtain up to two Marine Fisheries Licenses This bill is not printed. Sponsored by Sen. Burns. LR 1481 An Act To Amend the Alewives Restoration Program on the St. Croix River This bill is not printed. Sponsored by Rep.Turner. LD 425 An Act To Prohibit False Labelling of Marine Organisms This bill requires clear and conspicuous labeling of a marine organism offered for sale if the marine organism is produced using genetic engineering and is labeled with the same name as its nongenetically engineered counterpart. Failure to provide the required labeling is a civil violation. Sponsored by Rep. Chapman. LR 509 An Act To Make the Email Addresses of DMR License Holders Confidential This bill is not printed. LR 510 An Act To Amend the Emergency Rule-making Authority of the Department of Marine Resources This bill is not printed. LR 511 An Act To Improve Enforcement of Maine’s Marine Resources Laws This bill is not printed . LR 515 An Act To Provide for Improved Reporting of Marine Resources Landings This bill is not printed. LR 516 An Act To Make Technical Changes to Maine’s Marine Resources Laws This bill is not printed. Waterfront Bonds LD 254 An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support Waterfront Development The funds provided by this bond issue, in the amount of $10,000,000, will be used to fund a grant program to invest in projects that contribute to economic activity, environmental protection and community development along the State’s waterfronts. It also enacts a grant program for waterfront development, which is modeled after the Riverfront Community Development Program. Sponsored by Sen. Haskell.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Updates The U.S. Coast Guard requires all state and federally documented vessels operating outside the 3-mile line to receive a dockside safety exam by October 15, 2015. Exams must be completed every five years. Additionally, all state and federally documented vessels operating outside the 3-mile line must have a survival craft “that ensures that no part of an individual is immersed in water…”, effective February 16, 2016. For questions or to schedule an exam: call Kevin Plowman at 780-3256 in western Maine or Garry Moores at 838-4440 in eastern Maine.


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