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February 11, 2016

Opponents outnumber supporters of new lobstering proposal at hearing

As expected, a proposal meant to streamline the process of acquiring a lobster-fishing license in Maine was met with opposition from many veteran lobstermen as it went in front of Maine lawmakers Wednesday.

The bill, L.D. 1503, which was introduced by Deer Isle Democratic Rep. Walter Kumiega, went before a Marine Resources Committee hearing yesterday in Augusta to a packed house of state officials and fishermen.

According to The Portland Press Herald, although there were many supporters of the bill, opponents of the bill outnumbered supporters 2-to-1.

"Given the success and profitability of the industry," said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association at Wednesday's hearing, "it is not surprising that there is mounting pressure to create more access to the industry."

As of November 2015, the waiting list to issue new lobster-fishing licenses contained 293 names, with some applicants being on the list for more than a decade.

Among the provisions of the new bill is the creation of a new limited Class II of lobster and crab-fishing licenses that would allow the holder to fish up to 300 traps, as opposed to the current 800 traps allowed with a Class II license, and a provision that would remove the licensing fees for applicants over the age of 70.

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