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MLMC Reauthorized For 5 years

The Marine Resources Committee voted unanimously in March to pass LD 338, An Act to Amend the Law Governing the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. The Collaborative was created in 2013 to replace the Lobster Promotion Council. Its mission is to promote Maine lobster in numerous ways in order to boost demand for the product. The Collaborative’s $2.2 million annual budget is funded by surcharges on lobster and seafood processor licenses, which will remain unchanged. “Both the Maine Lobstermen’s Association Board of Directors and the Lobster Advisory Council voted unanimously to support the re-authorization of the Collaborative, and several lobstermen spoke in favor of the Collaborative at the public hearing,” said Marianne Lacroix, MLMC executive director.

Right Whales Producing Many Calves This Year

The endangered North Atlantic right whale population is experiencing its best calving season since 2013. As of mid-March, 18 newborn whales have been spotted, in a season that began in November and could run through mid-April. Two of this year’s calves have died however, one of natural causes and the other due to a ship strike. According to New England Aquarium senior scientist Philip Hamilton, there are a few explanations for the recent boom. Around a decade ago, about 10 female whales were born, and they are now at childbearing age; and Hamilton surmises that the North Atlantic right whale may be “finally adapting to a very different feeding regime.” Each fall, some right whales travel more than 1,000 miles from their feeding areas in the waters off New England and Canada to the shallow, coastal waters of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida. The southeastern United States is the only known area where right whale females regularly give birth and nurse their young.

Prospect Harbor Facility May Become Salmon Farm
Photo courtesy of East Coast Seafood Group

American Aquafarms plans to acquire the Maine Fair Trade Lobster plant in Gouldsboro and to invest between $50 million and $100 million to redevelop the site as a salmon hatchery and processing plant. It announced its intent to apply for Department of Marine Resources permits to place 30 floating pens, each 150 feet wide, for growing salmon at two sites in Frenchman Bay. The company would produce 30,000 metric tons, or about 66 million pounds, of salmon each year.

Seaweed Helps Reduce Methane Emitted By Belching Cows

According to new findings from the researchers at the University of California, Davis, “a bit of seaweed in cattle feed could reduce methane emissions from beef cattle as much as 82%.” Last summer, over a course of five months, researchers with UC Davis added “scant” amounts of seaweed to the diet of 21 beef cattle. The researchers tracked their weight gain and methane emissions and found that cattle that consumed doses of about 80 grams, or 3 ounces of seaweed, gained as much weight as their herd mates while burping out 82% less methane into the atmosphere. U.S. agriculture is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the study, half of that figure comes from “cows and other ruminant animals that belch methane and other gases throughout the day as they digest forages like grass and hay.”

Early Start To New Brunswick Snow Crab Season
Photo Courtesy of The Journal Pioneer

The New Brunswick snow crab season begins earlier this year in an effort to avoid encounters with endangered North Atlantic right whales. The season is expected to start at the beginning of April, up to four weeks earlier than normal. Icebreakers from the Canadian Coast Guard and contracted boats began clearing the waters near Shippagan and Caraquet, New Brunswick, in mid-March. The early opening will help get fishermen setting traps before the whales begin migrating into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in May. While the season extends into late June, the presence of whales could mean most of the fishing grounds will be forced to close. The early fishing this year is expected to boost profits compared to last season. About 11% of the snow crab quota remained at the close of the 2020 season, or between $40 million and $50 million (CD) worth of snow crabs.

Supreme Court Justice Expresses Reservations About National Monument Law

In a decision released on March 22 declining to review the case the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association brought against the federal government, concerning the National Marine Monument declared by President Obama in 2016, Chief Justice John Roberts indicated he has grave reservations regarding the creation and formulation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.

While he rejected the legal arguments made by the plaintiff’s attorneys as to why the Supreme Court should take the case, the Chief Justice was clear in expressing his concerns about the monument’s designation and scope.
“The Antiquities Act originated as a response to widespread defacement of Pueblo ruins in the American Southwest… A statute permitting the President in his sole discretion to designate as monuments “landmarks,” “structures,” and “objects”—along with the smallest area of land compatible with their management—has been transformed into a power without any discernible limit to set aside vast and amorphous expanses of terrain above and below the sea. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument at issue in this case demonstrates how far we have come from indigenous pottery.”

He also suggested that the Supreme Court could take action on this monument and others, noting that several cases that could soon come before the court may raise issues that could truncate or invalidate monuments created using the Antiquities Act.

Authorized in 2016, the Marine Monument has been the subject of numerous legal challenges. DOI graphic.
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