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News You Can Use: January 2016

Online Lobster Licenses The Department has reported delays in the development of the new online licensing system. The DMR asks fishermen to check the www.maine.gov/dmr website for updates on when the online renewal system will be available. Applications for 2016 are available on the DMR website or can be mailed to you by contacting the Licensing Division at 207-624-6550.

Do you need a life raft? The Coast Guard has pushed back the deadline on the life raft requirement for vessels fishing outside of three miles to November 1, 2016. For those vessels that operate exclusively in warm water (inside 20 nautical miles from the coastline from July 1 through September 30), the requirement is pushed back until February 1, 2017. See page 4 for more details.

Struggling with New Trawling Up Regs? Are you are concerned about your ability to safely comply with the offshore trawling up requirements for your zone implemented as part of the whale rules? Please call John Higgins, NMFS Gear Specialist, at 207-359-4404 (land line) or 207-771-3669 (cell). He can document your safety concerns and meet you to view the issues specific to your vessel. The bottom line is that we need to get your safety issues and experience in trying to comply with the whale rules documented by NMFS. This step is essential to helping us find a solution that will keep our fleet safe.

Trap Tags should be Hog Ringed If you are shifting new lobster gear, you can cut out trap tags out of traps and hog ring them into the bridge of a different trap. Be sure to cut out your tags in a manner that keeps all of the identifying information intact so it is clear to Marine Patrol that it is a legal 2015 trap tag. Catastrophic losses for replacement tags still need to go through Marine Patrol for reissue. Questions? Call your local Marine Patrol Officer.

Canadian Lobster Season Updates According to recent press reports, the Nova Scotia lobster fishery is experiencing record landings. Strong landings usually seen for just the first few days have held on for a few weeks. And prices remain strong. Canadian fishing areas that are currently open are the Upper Bay of Fundy lobster fishery (LFA 35) which closes on December 31 (trap limit of 300 traps); the Southwest and Southeast Nova Scotia lobster fisheries (LFA 33 and 34) which closes at the end of May, 2016 (LFA 33 250 trap limit, LFA 34 375 and 400 trap limit); the New Brunswick Bay of Fundy lobster fisheries (LFA 36 and 37) which closes on January 14, 2016 (trap limit of 300 traps); and the Grand Manan lobster fishery (LFA 38) which closes on June 29, 2016 (trap limit of 375 traps).

Funding Groundfish Observers NMFS announced that industry has facilitated an initial agreement among the three at-sea monitoring contract providers that will allow federal funding to continue to pay for at-sea monitors in 2016. Approximately $200K is remains available to fund approximately 250 to 300 sea days of at-sea monitoring in 2016. Following the use of the remaining 250-300 sea days of at-sea monitoring, the industry will be required to begin paying for all at-sea monitoring, which NMFS anticipates will happen in early 2016. This arrangement is still under negotiation.

Groundfishermen Sue NMFS David Goethel, owner and operator of F/V Ellen Diane, a 44-foot fishing trawler based in Hampton, N.H., and Northeast Fishery Sector 13, a nonprofit entity comprised of over 20 groundfishermen, are suing the U.S. Department of Commerce over the legality of a federal mandate requiring groundfishermen in the Northeast United States to not only carry federal “at-sea monitors” on their vessels during fishing trips, but to soon begin paying out-of-pocket for them.

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