In the News – Tidbits from the Lobster Industry August 2018

Free Knives Distributed in Stonington to Keep Lobstermen Safe
One of the greatest dangers of lobstering is the risk of fishermen getting entangled in rope and going overboard. The Island Fishermen’s Wives Association hopes to keep Stonington lobstermen safer on the water by distributing 1,000 razor knives made by Plante’s Buoy Sticks in Somerville, ME. Plante’s gave a discounted price which was then was offset by a grant from the Birch Cove Fund of the Maine Community Foundation and a reoccurring anonymous donor. The knives were handed out through local businesses in the community.

New owners at local lobster businesses continue traditions
Two long time seafood businesses in southern Maine will be under new ownership. Luke’s Lobster has committed to a long term lease on the Portland Pier, taking over the space previously held by New Meadows Lobster. The company plans to continue to buy and sell lobster and to offer berths to lobstermen. Day’s Crabmeat, an 80-year-old landmark in Yarmouth, was purchased recently by Randall Curit and Jennifer Rief. They plan to keep the local eatery and seafood shop the same with some small improvements including longer hours and keeping the business open year-round.

Canada Increases Staff to Patrol for Whales
Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has implemented stronger rules to protect whales, dolphins and orcas from contact with humans and marine vessels. Using a combination of public education and stiffer penalties as well as a greater number of officers and patrol vessels, the DFO plans to enforce the new rules, which previously have been voluntary guidelines. No word yet on the number of new staff or vessels.

Trump Administration Seeks to Weaken ESA
The Trump administration released a proposal in mid-July to strip the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of key provisions by making it harder to get comprehensive protections for threatened species and making removing species from the ESA protection easier. The proposal also seeks to strike language that guides officials to ignore economic impacts when determining how wildlife should be protected.

Massachusetts Lobstermen Test Ropeless Fishing Gear
Lobstermen in Massachusetts want to get back on the water and are willing to try a new system that would protect right whales. The “acoustic release system” was tested in Sandwich by lobstermen volunteers earlier this month. The testing was arranged by the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the manufacturer Desert Star Systems. IFAW hopes they can find other fishermen who would be willing to test Desert Star Systems product and at least one other system in the coming months.

House Passes Fisheries Act Reauthorization
On July 11, Congress passed H.R. 200, titled “The Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.” The bill, which passed by a vote of 222-193 largely along party lines, would extend and revise the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). The bill’s provisions include replacing the 10-year time requirement for rebuilding fisheries with biologically-based time frames to add flexibility on determining optimal rebuilding schedules; modifying requirements to Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) to allow regional Councils to consider ecosystem changes and the needs of fishing communities, and replacing the term “overfished” with “depleted” to allow stocks to be characterized on factors other than just fishing mortality. Having passed the House, MSA reauthorization now heads to the Senate for consideration.