In the News: April 2015

First published in Landings, April, 2015.

Forecast calls for late start to lobster season

There’s a 50/50 percent chance that Maine’s summer lobster harvest will begin later than usual, according to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. This winter’s below-normal temperatures and stormy weather have cooled the waters in the Gulf of Maine. That means lobsters, which spend their winters in deeper waters offshore, will likely get a late start migrating to the coast and shedding their shells, according to scientists at the nonprofit research institute. The forecast is based on 13 years of data on lobster landings and water temperatures measured at 50 meters – about 164 feet – below the surface at four buoys off the Maine coast, from southern Maine to Downeast. The institute plans to issue its forecast every Wednesday through April. Check the weekly updates on the lobster forecast at www.gmri.org/our-work/research/projects/gulf-maine-lobster-forecasting.

Promotion at Marine Patrol bureau

rene cloutierIn March, Rene Cloutier, a 21-year veteran of the Maine Marine Patrol, was promoted to Major. As Major, Cloutier will serve as second-in-command to Colonel Jon Cornish, responsible for operational field command, as well as planning, coordinating, assigning, and overseeing Marine Patrol enforcement activities.

“Major Cloutier is a seasoned Marine Patrol professional who has consistently set a high standard of excellence for himself and those around him throughout his career,” said Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “Rene has a deep passion to protect the resource while also ensuring a strong relationship with the industry. This has been a major asset for both enforcement and resource management.”

Major Cloutier began his career in the Maine Marine Patrol in 1994, serving for seven years as a Marine Patrol Officer in Friendship before being promoted to Specialist and working out of Rockland for five years. Prior to the promotion, Cloutier served two years as Lieutenant in Division I, which stretches from the New Hampshire border to the St. George River. He also served seven years as a Marine Patrol Sergeant based in West Boothbay Harbor.

MSC label goes to two more businesses

In March Harbor Seafoods and The Mazzetta Company joined the Maine lobster fishery client group certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council of London. Christian Limberg, president of Harbor Seafood, and Mazzetta’s Dave Fitzgerald will take seats on the client group’s board of directors.

The client group’s members already include Shucks Maine Lobster, Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster, Goat Island Lobster, Amalgamated Seafood and Cape Seafood. Shucks President John Hathaway said the group was excited about the expanded membership. Sustainability and traceability are among consumers’ major concerns when it comes to purchasing seafood and “there is no better story in the seafood industry than Maine lobster,” he said.

A second Maine lobster client group, The Maine Certified Sustainable Lobster Association (MCSLA), continues to seek its own Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. The MCSLA was founded by Cozy Harbor Seafood, Craig’s All Natural, East Coast Seafood, Garbo Lobster, Inland Seafood, Mazzetta Company, and Orion Seafood International. In addition, Maine Coast Lobster, Eastern Traders/Barry Group and Cape Bald Packers are current members. Thirty-three other seafood companies currently are seeking membership. MCSLA’s MSC certification process began in September, 2014, and is expected to be completed by this October.

Results coming in from shrimp sampling program

Samples taken by Maine fishermen on behalf of the DMR this winter indicate that levels of northern shrimp are still at historically low levels. Three trips comprising a total of 13 tows in western Maine in January and February landed 4,290 pounds of shrimp. Vessels fishing in mid-coast Maine also brought in a modest amount, 3,510 pounds from three trips and 18 tows. Trap shrimp fishermen caught 520 pounds of shrimp off South Bristol during February and the first week of March. The sampling program is a joint effort of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the DMR. Four trawlers and five trappers have been selected to conduct limited fishing in order to collect these samples. The samples will be used to track the timing of egg hatch and other information about the population. The results are available at www.maine.gov/dmr/rm/shrimp/2015sampling.htm.