In the state of Maine, lobsters are managed by zones which divide up the coastline of Maine into 7 areas. Management zones are labeled A-G and are assigned to lobstermen on their fishing license. Within these management zones, different trap limits are set, as well as a different amount of active licensed lobstermen. This is due to the differing population sizes along the coast requiring different management regimes.
Lobster Advisory Council
The lobster advisory council is part of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The Council is to advise the commissioner with activities within the department that relate back to the lobster fishery. The council is also tasked with reviewing current lobster research plans, as well as dispute settlement with issues brought by lobster management councils to the department. The council is made up of representatives from each of the lobstering zones, A-G. Along with these lobstermen, the council consists of non-lobstermen involved in the industry, as well as general public members.
Maine Statute on the Lobster Advisory Council: http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/12/title12sec6463.html
DMR and State Regulations
The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) is located in Augusta, Maine. The DMR is charged with determining state wide regulations for the lobster fishery. Along with determining regulations, the DMR is tasked with conducting and sponsoring scientific research, to develop the Maine coastal fishing industries, and to enforce laws concerning activities in coastal waters.
The DMR’s page about regulations: https://www.maine.gov/dmr/about/index.html
The Maine DMR is also responsible for conducting surveys, that are then used to monitor and assess the fisheries critical to the state of Maine and its ecosystems. “Detailed catch, effort, and biological data are collected from fishermen along the entire coast of Maine for assessment and management of the American lobster, green sea urchin, sea scallops and Atlantic herring” (Maine DMR). These surveys are important when looking at needs for cutbacks in certain fishing industries, and the needs for further protection of a population. A current example of this is with the Herring stock in Maine, which has been surveyed and determined to be at a critically low level.
Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission (ASMFC)
The goal of the ASMFC is to unify the Atlantic seaboard states in order for the promotion and protection of such fisheries, and by the prevention of physical waste of the fisheries. The ASMFC finds success through management with a State/Federal level partnership. NOAA Fisheries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, work in collaboration with the states to achieve their mutual interest of sustaining a healthy coastal fishery resource. The Commission is funded through a combination of member state dues and state and federal grants awarded to them. The commission set’s the state’s overall quota levels for the Maine DMR to use in their regulation making practices.
ASMFC’s website: http://www.asmfc.org/about-us/program-overview
New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC)
The NEFMC is one of 8 regional councils, established by federal legislation in 1976. The NEFMC is charged with conserving and managing the fishery resources from 200-300 miles off the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Due to the NEFMC having jurisdiction over 200-300 miles off the coast, they handle dealings with offshore lobstering practices and respond to regulatory actions in this area.