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Time Once Again For the Maine Fishermen's Forum!

Next month fishermen, regulators, scientists, students and many others involved in New England’s diverse fisheries will gather at the Samoset Resort in Rockport for the 45th Maine Fishermen’s Forum. As ever, the three-day event will feature seminars on current fisheries issues, such as scallop aquaculture, climate change, and right whale protection measures, as well as more lighthearted events, such as the Food Guys cooking show and the Friday night live auction.

The Forum kicks off on Thursday, February 28 with an all-day focus on Maine’s shellfish industries. In addition, there will be a public scoping hearing on Amendment 21 to the New England Fishery Management Council’s Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. The draft amendment contains new measures for the Northern Gulf of Maine Management Area and changes to the Limited Access General Category individual fishing quota limits. New England Fisheries Science Center oceanographer Jim Manning will review 2018 findings of the environmental monitoring program known as eMolt. The program attaches temperature sensors to lobster traps and trawls to record water temperatures at depth, data of growing importance as the Gulf of Maine continues to warm. And throughout the weekend, Maine Sea Grant will host a mobile recording studio parked in the Samoset parking lot to continue capturing “Voices of the Fishermen’s Forum,” interviews with fishermen and others pursuing their livelihoods on the water. On Friday the Maine Lobstermen’s Association holds its 65th annual members meeting. This will mark the first meeting presided over by MLA’s President, Kristan Porter, of Cutler. The MLA will update its membership on the past year’s work advocating for lobstermen on bait allocations, whale rules, ocean energy development, developing better life jackets, and more. The MLA will also explore what the pending herring quota cuts will mean for Maine lobstermen and discuss strategies to keep lobstermen fishing and profitable. Also Friday morning, high school students from the eight Downeast high schools participating in the Eastern Maine Skippers Program, a program of the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries in Stonington, will speak about their ongoing investigation into the question of how technology can be used to support sustainable and successful local fisheries in the state. The MLA and DMR will lead a session on the status of right whales and management efforts to protect them. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is evaluating the relationship between lobster gear and right whale mortalities and is likely to promulgate additional regulations to protect the whales. The session will include an update on the status of the right whale population, an overview of the management processes underway, an update on the pending court case, and review the preliminary results of Maine’s vertical line project.

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