DMR asks Maine lobster industry to step up and deal with latent effort

ROCKPORT, ME – Two sessions focused on the future of the state’s lobster fishery drew standing-room-only crowds at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum on Feb. 28 and March 1.

Over the forum weekend, the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) released preliminary state statistics that showed another year of exceptional lobster landings.  At 125,953,876 pounds, 2013 landings were the second highest on record, valued at an estimated $378 million, a figure that reflected the agency’s first attempt to factor in co-op dividends (see story page 14).

But the message delivered by the DMR during the forum sessions was one of caution and the need to take stock of the fishery during this time of abundance rather than waiting for what many feel is an inevitable dip in harvest levels.

During the March 1 DMR-sponsored session titled “The State of the Lobster Fishery,” the first in a series of
meetings DMR has scheduled with industry throughout Maine, Commissioner Pat Keliher noted that landings in 2013 dropped by 1.3 million pounds.  Additionally, juvenile settlement, an indicator of future abundance, was down for the third straight year, and there were indications that shell disease was expanding.

“I don’t want anyone to come away thinking the sky is falling,” Keliher said.  “There is an urgency to talk about the future, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to run to the Legislature with new bills.”

Recalling how upsetting trap reductions imposed in 1997 were to lobstermen, Keliher emphasized, “I’m not here to talk about taking traps away.”…

CFN_4_14coverRead the rest and much, much more in the April issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

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