Lobster, Jonah Crab Plan Public Hearings in January

On January 10, in Scarborough, and January 11, in Ellsworth, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will hold public hearings on proposed reporting requirements for lobster and Jonah crab. The Commission is concerned that current harvester reporting requirements do not provide the level of information needed to respond to management issues. The New England lobster fishery has steadily moved its operations offshore. At the same time, the Jonah crab fishery primarily occurs in offshore federal waters. The majority of biological sampling, however, occurs in inshore waters.
The goals of the new addenda are to use the latest technology to improve reporting; collect more data on fishing effort; increase the spatial resolution of harvester reporting; and move more biological data collection offshore. Lack of actual data from fishermen is a key issue.  Maine accounts for more than 80% of the lobster harvest but only 10% of lobstermen report in. In addition, federal permit holders fishing only for lobster are not required to report through Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs). Much of the survey data on lobsters and Jonah crab that does come in is drawn from within 12 miles of the coast. The two plan addenda call for a targeted lobster sampling program in federal waters and increased use of electronic tracking software such as eTrips.