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MLA Update: November 2016

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As always, stay safe on the water.

MLA Directors October Meeting MLA Director Patrice McCarron updated the Board.

  1. The Area 1A herring fishery closed in September. There was a glitch in the computer system so the closure had not been predicted through the weekly monitoring of landings. The Area 3 fishery remains open with a decent amount of quota left. The 1A herring fishery will reopen on October 1 to all herring vessels, however there will be a spawning closure in place off Massachusetts, New Hampshire and southern Maine until October 18. The MLA Directors said that the supply and cost of herring has been a big concern for lobstermen this fall. Herring continues to be the preferred bait and shortages at this time of year are a hardship. The MLA will remain proactive on this issue in preparation for the 2016 fishing season.

  2. MLA is coordinating with Maine DMR and the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association to highlight the issues and concerns from the lobster industry surrounding the large increase in federal observer trips aboard federal lobster boats with VTR’s.

  3. The Army Corps of Engineers has pulled, at least for now, the application to Maine DEP regarding the Searsport dredge project.

  4. The MLA continues to collaborate with the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, the Offshore Lobstermen’s Association and other fishing groups to adamantly oppose the designation of any national monuments in the Gulf of Maine.

  5. Safety stickers for vessels fishing outside of 3 miles were due on October 15; the new life raft regulations will be in place in February 2016.

  6. The “American Lobster in a Changing Ecosystem” conference will be held the week of November 2 in Prince Edward Island. The majority of the Directors meeting was dedicated to discussing the outcome of the DMR’s round of 10 meetings with the lobster industry to discuss potential changes to the lobster licensing system. Patrice presented a summary of the discussion from the meetings. The Directors reviewed a variety of data including the length of waiting list by zone, changes in the number of lobster licenses and tags by zone, the age structure of the lobster fishery by zone, in addition to other information. The Marine Resources Committee continues to be concerned about this issue. Senator Linda Baker, Marine Resources Senate Chair, informed Zone E lobstermen that at least two committee members attended each of the Commissioner’s meetings. The committee wants to be partners with the industry and DMR and they want to continue the licensing conversation. The MLA Directors recognized that each zone views this issue differently. The board reviewed the feedback and noted that there does not appear to be any consensus among lobstermen resulting from the DMR meetings. The Board supported the idea of leaving licensing changes to the zone councils. They were not comfortable with notion of the Legislature potentially imposing a one-size-fits-all solution for all of the lobster zones. The MLA will continue to review data and discuss this issue during upcoming meetings in order to prepare for the state-wide discussion which will be underway by the new year. The DMR plans to submit legislation proposing changes to the lobster entry system in the next legislative session. They hope to bring the draft legislation to the zone councils before it is debated by the Legislature. Amy Lent, Director of the Maine Maritime Museum, thanked the MLA Board for its help with the new lobster exhibit which opened this summer. It has been very well received and is attracting a lot of visitors. The museum will continue to make improvements and updates to the permanent exhibit as necessary. The next MLA Directors meeting will be November 10 in Belfast.

MLA Public outreach MLA Director Patrice McCarron sat on a panel during the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership’s 2015 State of the Bay conference. The session was entitled “Perspectives on our Changing Coast.” McCarron gave an overview of the Maine lobster industry and the importance of the lobster industry to Casco Bay. She noted that the health of the bay is essential to the future of the lobster industry, as well as the many dealers, processors and other support businesses located around the waterfront of the bay. McCarron also gave two lectures as part of the Maine Maritime Museum’s lecture series celebrating the launch of the new lobster exhibit. The talk was entitled “Grit & Determination: Past, Present, and Future Issues Facing Lobstering.” McCarron presented an overview of the Maine lobster industry and explained the history of challenges lobstermen have faced, what they deal with now, and what is on the horizon in the 21st century.

Double Gear Marking in Effect for Jeffreys Ledge and Jordan Basin Effective September 1, 2015, two additional Gear Marking Areas around Jeffreys Ledge and near Jordan Basin became part of the federal whale rules. Gear fished in the Jeffreys Gear Marking Area must be marked in three 12” sections with red and green; gear fished in the Jordan Basin Gear Marking Area must be marked in three 12” sections with red and purple. All other Maine lobstermen fishing gear outside the exemption line must have their endlines marked in three 12” sections with red.

Jonesport buoy 44027

Bait Report The Area 1A herring fishery reopened on October 1 with the start of the third trimester. All permitted herring vessels, both purse seines and midwater trawls, are allowed to fish this area from October 1 to December 31, or until the quota is landed. The ASMFC’s Atlantic Herring Section set the Trimester 3 (October 1 to December 31)“days out” effort control measure to allow three (3) consecutive landing days per week in Area 1A from Sundays at 6 p.m. to Wednesdays at 6 p.m.. Thursday through Sunday are “no landing” days. Landings will be monitored closely; the directed fishery will be closed when 92% of the Area 1A quota is projected to be reached. For the Trimester 3 Area 1A fishery that value is 6,971 metric tons (mt).

Herring landings
  1. Eastern Maine Spawning Area: August 15 through September 11, 2015

  2. Western Maine Spawning Area: September 1 through September 28, 2015.

  3. Western Maine and Mass/NH Spawning Area: September 21 through October 18, 2015; and resumed October 21 through November 4, 2015.

2016-2018 Herring Landings Set The New England Fishery Management Council approved the new herring catch limits for the 2016 through 2018 fishing seasons. These specifications account for management uncertainty to further ensure the Atlantic herring catch will not exceed the Allowable Biologic Catch (ABC) in a given year. The Council also adopted river herring and shad catch caps for 2016-2018 based on catch estimates for these species from 2008 through 2014. The catch caps apply to midwater trawl vessels in the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod Catch Cap Areas, and to both midwater trawl and small mesh bottom trawl vessels in the southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Catch Cap Area on all trips landing more than 6,600 pounds of Atlantic herring. No catch caps were adopted for the Georges Bank Catch Cap Area.


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