Maine gubernatorial candidates to discuss seafood industry at forum

Published on
October 2, 2018

The four candidates in the race to become the next governor of the U.S. state of Maine will attend a 4 October forum to discuss the state’s seafood industry. 

Taking place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, 4 October, the “Seafood Industry Gubernatorial Forum” will bring together Janet Mills, the Democratic nominee; Republican Shawn Moody; and independents Terry Hayes and Alan Caron at The Strand Theatre in Rockland, Maine. The four will have the chance to discuss what their stances are on industry issues and what their plans are for its future. 

The event is not a debate, but a chance for the four candidates to answer facilitated questions from the seafood industry, as well as give their stances on how to best promote it. 

“It isn't a debate, it's a forum. The candidates will be fielding questions from the fishing industry,” Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, told SeafoodSource. “We aren't looking for argument. We're hoping to better understand their views on the issues that matter to Maine's seafood industry.” 

The discussion comes at a time when the state’s seafood industry is facing pressure from both political and environmental issues. An ongoing trade war initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump has had some in the lobster industry scrambling to find new customers. The industry’s difficulties have been further amplified by potential changes to the quota for herring, which could drastically cut the available supply of lobstermen’s bait. 

The lobster industry has also received criticism for not doing enough to prevent North Atlantic right whale deaths after multiple whales were found dead and entangled in fishing gear, though none of the gear was conclusively proven to come from Maine's lobster fishery.

Lobster isn’t the only industry facing new pressures. The softshell clam and mussel industries have been facing down an ever-increasing threat posed by invasive European green crabs, which have led to historic low landings.

“Some of the biggest issues facing the industry will be bait supply, ocean use issues (whales, offshore energy), development of the working waterfront, workforce shortage, a changing industry that is aging and looking to diversify into new fisheries, climate change, and then more mundane things like the [Department of Marine Resources] budget,” Martens said. 

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