In the News – January 2019

Stonington gets a new Marine Patrol boat

The Maine Marine Patrol launched a new boat in Stonington to support its work patrolling Maine’s most lucrative fishing port. The new 26-foot patrol vessel Moxie, built by Biddeford-based General Marine, replaced a 21-foot Boston Whaler. “The PV Moxie’s name represents the courage and

Moxie and her crew are ready to go. DMR photo.

determination of Marine Patrol Officers,” said Marine Patrol Colonel Jon Cornish. The new boat will provide Officers Tyler Sirois and Daniel Vogel, who work in the Stonington patrol, the ability to haul lobster gear and, with an enclosed wheel house, go out in more challenging weather conditions. “Prior to having this vessel in Stonington, Officers had to bring a larger boat from either Rockland or Mount Desert Island to haul lobster gear as part of routine patrols. Now, they have a local vessel they can use to haul and inspect lobster gear without having to bring a vessel from another patrol area,” said Cornish. “This saves valuable time and allows us to maintain assets in the other areas.”

 

Government approves seismic testing along East Coast; conservation groups sue

The Trump administration has approved a first step toward offshore oil and gas drilling on the Atlantic coast. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued permits in December for five private companies to conduct offshore seismic tests from New Jersey to Florida. The NMFS authorizations allow companies to “incidentally, but not intentionally, harass marine mammals” while conducting testing. The tests fire acoustic pulses into the sea floor in search of oil and gas deposits. The blasts go off every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day.

The Department of Defense, NASA and the Florida Defense Task Force have expressed concern due to impacts to military testing, readiness and national security. Last year, a bipartisan group of 100 members of Congress voiced concerns over the Atlantic testing. Multiple environmental organizations promptly sued the Administration over the authorizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the N.C. Coastal Federation, Oceana, the Sierra Club and the Surfrider Foundation.

 

Lobster remains most valuable U.S. species

The American lobster fishery remains the most valuable single-species fishery in the country, according to the 2017 Fisheries of the United States report published in December, 2018, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. More than $550 million worth of American lobster was caught in the United States last year, with $423 million of that total landed in Maine. Only Alaska’s annual salmon fishery brought in more revenue to any one state, generating $645 million in gross revenues for fishermen there in 2017.

 

New biodegradable plastic from lobster shells

Audrey Moores, an associate professor of applied chemistry at McGill University in Montreal and her graduate student Thomas Di Nardo have discovered a simple way to make biodegradable plastic from the chitin contained in the shells of lobsters, shrimps, crabs and insects such as crickets and beetles. Chitin is already used to create a polymer called chitosan. The chitosan-based plastic could be used for biomedical materials such as stitches or implants, where both durability and biodegradability are important. There may be many other potential applications, including plastic for 3D printing, cutlery, food packaging, perhaps even plastic bags, removing the need to use petroleum-based plastic.

 

Large lobster restaurant planned for Portland waterfront

Luke’s Lobster is building a new restaurant at the end of Portland Pier that will seat 175 diners indoors and 25 outdoor on a patio. The restaurant at 60 Portland Pier will be the seafood chain’s largest by far. Set to open at the beginning of summer 2019, the Portland Pier location will be Luke’s second in Maine. The planned restaurant will adjoin an existing lobster wholesaling and distribution facility also operated by Luke’s Lobster that opened in July. Luke’s Lobster has 40 seafood restaurants across the country, including Luke’s at Tenants Harbor in St. George, as well as seven locations in Japan. The company also operates Cape Seafood, a Saco-based seafood processing company.

 

Working Waterfront grant program accepting applications

The Land for Maine’s Future Board will accept proposals for Working Waterfront Access Protection Program projects for the first time in many years. The Working Waterfront Access Protection Program provides funds to protect and secure commercial fishing access in Maine. The grant program requires that properties that receive grants remain in use for commercial fishing and closely related activities. Private individuals, and business entities, non-profit land conservation organizations, counties, cities, towns and state agencies are eligible to apply. However, projects must be sponsored by the Department of Marine Resources. In order to receive a sponsorship, applicants are encouraged to submit a letter of intent by Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Final proposals must be submitted by March 22 to Matthew Nixon, Maine Coastal Program deputy director, at the Maine Coastal Program, ME DMR, 21 SHS, 32 Blossom Lane, Augusts, ME 04333-0022.