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New Marine Resources Committee to Address Lobster Issues

The first regular session of the 129th Legislature convened on December 5, 2018 and must complete its work by June 19, 2019. The Maine Legislature consists of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House consist of 151 members (88 Democrats, 56 Republicans, 5 Independents, and 1 Independent and 1 vacancy). The House elected Sara Gideon to serve as Speaker of the House and Kathleen Dillingham as House Minority Leader. The Senate consists of 35 members (21 Democrats and 14 Republicans). The Senate elected Troy Jackson to serve as Senate President and Dana Dow as Minority Leaders. With the advent of the 129th Maine State Legislature comes a new slate of faces on the Joint Committee on Marine Resources. The Committee’s responsibilities include review of all bills pertaining to Maine’s many marine species, everything from seaweed harvesting to seafood dealer licensing.

The two co-chairman this session are Senator David Miramant of Camden and Representative Jay McCreight of Harpswell. The Committee is comprised of 13 members, eight of whom have served on this committee during a previous Legislature and four who have lobster fishing experience. Four members of the committee — Allison Hepler, Genevieve McDonald, Billy Bob Faulkingham and Kathy Javner — are serving their very first terms in the Legislature. We contacted Senator Miramant to hear his perspective on his new position. “I am excited to get to work dealing with the 40 or so bills that will be sent to our committee. We have a diverse group of members who all share a passion for protecting our marine resources now and for the future. Because of this diversity and experience, the members have shown a grasp of the issues we are facing. We will not waste the time of those who travel to make their views known in Augusta. We will be grouping the bills to minimize travel for any particular subject matter,

as we understand what it takes to give up time from fishing to come and testify.” To date, there have been 34 marine resource related bills put forward. Nine of these are lobster-related bills. There are others that deal with marine debris, ocean acidification and the marine economy that will indirectly impact the lobster industry.

Lobster-related Bills

Bills titles that have not yet been printed are assigned an “LR” number. Once the bill is drafted with the text of the proposed legislative changes, it is assigned an “LD” number. The following bills and bill titles were available as of press date.

LD 28 An Act Regarding Access to Lobster Licenses (Sponsored by Rep McCreight of Harpswell). This bill would authorize those who have completed the Apprentice program and been on the waiting list for 10 or more years as a new zone entrant. This process would occur annually. This would not affect new zone entrants through the existing limited entry process.

LD 174 An Act to Promote Youth Participation in the Maine Lobster Fishery (Sponsored by Rep McDonald of Stonington). This bill would allow an unlicensed person who is 12 years old or younger to assist a Class I, II or III lobster license holder while lobstering.

LD 314 An Act to Simplify Apprenticeship Requirements for Student and Apprentice Lobster and Crab Fishing License Holders (Sponsored by Rep Faulkingham of Winter Harbor). This bill requires the Commissioner of Marine Resources to allow a person with an Apprentice or Student lobster license to demonstrate Apprentice Program completion through verified landings of at least 4,000 pounds of lobster over a period of not less than 2 years.

LD 340 An Act to Establish a Temporary Terminal Condition Medical Allowance for Lobster and Crab Fishing License Holders (Sponsored by Rep McCreight of Harpswell). This bill creates a temporary terminal condition medical allowance that allows an individual to fish under the authority of the license of a Class I, Class II or Class III lobster license holder when the following criteria are met: The individual is the child, spouse or domestic partner of the license holder, and has completed the lobster apprentice program, and The license holder has been diagnosed with a terminal condition and harvested a minimum of 1,000 pounds of lobsters within one year prior to the request. The bill allows the license holder to continue to fish pursuant to the license despite having been issued an allowance but permits only one person, the license holder or the designated individual, to fish under the license at any one time. The temporary terminal condition medical allowance may not exceed one year in duration and may be renewed at the discretion of the Commissioner of Marine Resources.

LR 6 An Act to Encourage the Safe Disposal of Expired Marine Flares (Sponsored by Rep McCreight of Harpswell).

LD 16 An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Invest in Infrastructure to Address Sea Level Rise (Sponsored by Rep Brennan of Portland). This bill seeks to move a referendum question forward: “Do you favor a $50,000,000 bond issue to improve waterfront and 18 coastal infrastructure in municipalities to address sea level rise?”

LR 148 Resolve, Establishing a Commission to Study the Existing Potential and Future Impacts of Aquatic and Marine Debris on Maine’s Aquatic and Coastal Habitats and Species (Sponsored by Rep Devin of Newcastle).

LR 747 An Act to Remove Night-time Restrictions on Lobster Fishing in a Certain Area in the Bay of Fundy (sponsored by Rep Tuell of East Machias).

LR 851 An Act to Simplify Maine’s Lobster Licensing System (sponsored by Rep Faulkingham of Winter Harbor).

LR 852 An Act to Provide Equity in the Lobster License Promotion Surcharge (sponsored by Rep Faulkingham of Winter Harbor).

LR 1312 An Act to Improve the Student Lobster Licensing Program (Sponsored by Rep Devin of Newcastle).

LR 1313 An Act to Further Define the Monhegan Lobster Conservation Area (Sponsored by Rep Devin of Newcastle).

LR 2191 Resolve, To Require Maine to Become an Affiliate of the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification (Sponsored by Rep Devin of Newcastle).

LR 2075 An Act to Incorporate Advancements in Watershed Nutrient Management with Research on the Influence of Nutrient Management on Ocean and Coastal Acidification and Hypoxia (Sponsored by Rep Devin of Newcastle).

LR 2089 An Act to Protect Maine’s Marine Waters (Sponsored by Rep Devin , Newcastle).

LR 1161 An Act to Strengthen the Marine Economy (Sponsored by Pres Jackson of Aroostook).

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