New England fisheries council duels with Maine on no-fishing zones
The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) wants data and input from lobster harvesters in eastern Maine who might be impacted by proposed New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) regulations.
One of NEFMC’s proposed management options is a total ban on fishing in the proposed Gulf of Maine coral protection areas of Outer Schoodic Ridge and southwest of Mount Desert Rock.
The DMR has offered a proposal that would exempt the lobster and crab fisheries in the two coral protection areas, but in January, the NEFMC voted that it was too early in the development of the draft amendment to consider an exemption. It is seeking more data and analyses of the fisheries in these two areas. In response, the DMC issued a statement saying it had already conducted analysis proving the protected area would cause economic harm to Maine fishing communities.
“DMR has already provided information to the NEFMC, compiled from dealer and harvester landings reports and industry input, that gave an estimate of the economic impact of closing these areas as well as the number of potentially impacted boats and harbors,” DMR said.
DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher urged the NEFMC to consider the DMR-compiled data before issuing a final ruling.
“Maine’s lobster industry provided valuable data when the federal whale rules were developed, which resulted in much better informed regulations,” Keliher said. “The areas under consideration are very important to Maine’s lobster industry and we are again working closely with industry to ensure that these regulations take into account the full impact of these proposed regulations.”
Harvesters who fish in the two coral protection areas are being asked by the DMR complete a survey, available at http://bit.ly/2mxwEge.
“The survey results will provide the department and NEFMC with data that can demonstrate the impact that these measures would have on the lobster fishery and the Downeast Maine economy,” Keliher said.