In the News: May 2015

First published in Landings, May, 2015.

Swan’s Island man has licenses revoked

Lucas Lemoine, a 33-year-old scallop fisherman from Swan’s Island, has had all of his commercial fishing licenses permanently revoked as a result of a history of violations that goes back almost two decades.

This is the first time a commercial fishing license has been permanently revoked by the Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, who was granted the authority in law last year. Lemoine held both a scallop dragger and lobster license.

In March, Lemoine was charged with multiple violations of marine resources laws after an investigation by Marine Patrol Officers Jeff Turcotte and Brent Chasse and Specialist Sean Dow. Lemoine was charged with dragging for scallops in an area with an underwater cable, dragging for scallops in a closed area, dragging for scallops at night, possession of undersized scallops, and operating without navigation lights.

The Commissioner’s authority to revoke commercial fishing licenses is the result of a law passed in the last session of the 126th legislature. Under the law, license holders with six or more convictions or adjudications of marine resource laws may have their licenses permanently revoked by the Commissioner. Not including the most recent violations, Lemoine has been adjudicated or convicted of 19 violations of Maine’s marine resources laws since 1998.

Maine DMR has Moved!

The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) moved its headquarters in April. The new location, in the Marquardt Building of the former Augusta Mental Health Institute campus, is adjacent to the offices of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

“The new facility provides improved access for our license holders, sufficient space for public hearings, and a better work environment for staff,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher.

The department’s Licensing Division is located on the first floor, along with staff from the Division of Sea-Run Fisheries and the Marine Patrol. The first floor also includes conference room space for DMR public hearings. The Commissioner’s office and Bureau of Policy and Management are on the second floor, as well as additional conference room space and offices for DMR staff from satellite sites who periodically work in the main office. Phone numbers and mailing addresses for DMR staff, Marine Patrol, and Licensing Division remain the same.

NMFS declares six fish stocks sound

The number of domestic fish stocks listed as overfished or subject to overfishing has dropped to an all-time low since 1997, when NOAA began tracking stock status, according to the 2014 Status of U.S. Fisheries report to Congress. Six stocks were removed from the overfishing list: snowy grouper on the southern Atlantic coast; North Atlantic albacore; haddock in the Gulf of Maine; gag grouper in the South Atlantic; the Jacks fishes of the Gulf of Mexico; and bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic. Two stocks are no longer listed as overfished: gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, and North Atlantic albacore.The rebounding fisheries are evidence of the impact of a 2007 law change that enacted annual catch limits, according to NOAA officials.

Nova Scotia moves forward toward lobster levy

Lobster fishermen in New Brunswick and on Prince Edward Island have agreed to the collection of a marketing levy for lobster. The penny-per-pound levy was first proposed in 2013. Canadian lobstermen and buyers and processors would each pay one cent on every pound of lobster caught to cover the cost of advertising campaigns and other promotional initiatives. The Nova Scotian government would be allowed to collect such a fee under legislation introduced in April.

Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell said a change to the Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act would enable the province to collect a financial contribution through regulations once the industry decides what form it will take. Colwell said there is still no consensus among lobster fishermen on the implementation of a levy. The levy proposal has been met with resistance on Nova Scotia’s southwest shore. Winning over the area’s fishery is key because it accounts for 40%of Canada’s total catch.

Man who sold lobster-killing pesticide sentenced

A Calais man convicted of making a false statement to federal agents in connection with the illegal use of a pesticide in Canada that killed hundreds of lobsters more than five years ago was sentenced in April to a year of probation. Clyde Eldridge, 65, owner of C&E Feeds, also was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Eldridge waived indictment in November and admitted that he lied in 2010 when questioned by Environmental Protection Agency officials as part of an investigation into the illegal use of cypermethrin on the New Brunswick side of Passamaquoddy Bay in the previous year. The pesticide application killed hundreds of lobsters off Deer Island and Grand Manan in November and December 2009, according to a previously published report.

The pesticide is banned in Canada but not in Maine, where it can be used with prior permission from state officials. The use of pesticides in or near the ocean has long been a concern to Maine lobster fishermen who fear that it could harm the state’s lobster industry.

Northern shrimp from Canada imports up

Canadian exports of Northern shrimp are up sharply since a ban on fishing for Gulf of Maine shrimp dried up local sources. The value of Canada’s shrimp exports to the U.S. grew nearly 20 percent, to more than $30.5 million, from 2013 to 2014. Canadian exports of cold water shrimp to Maine alone more than doubled to nearly 100 metric tons during that time.

The Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission shut down the Gulf of Maine fishery this winter. Scientists have cited rising temperatures in the Gulf of Maine as a threat to the species, which many Maine fishermen rely on to make money during the winter.

The Canadian fishery for the shrimp is much larger and, according to Canadian authorities, more stable than New England’s. Canadian fishermen’s catch of the shrimp averaged about 150,000 metric tons per year from 2009 to 2013. New England’s catch averaged about 3,300 metric tons in that time, including a low year of about 300 metric tons in 2013. Canadian shrimp landings are above average over the last 15 years, said David Walters, a spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.