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September 10, 2015

Overhaul of lobster licensing program under review

Lobster fishermen are on the move again to try to overhaul to state’s limited-entry licensing program.

The lobster industry is an important economic driver in the state, contributing more than $1 billion to the state’s economy each year. A suite of measures, including the limited-entry program, helps maintain the sustainability of the resource. But as reported in the Ellsworth American, that law has kept licenses out of the hands of new fishermen who have completed the state-mandated apprenticeship program, for years, sometimes decades.

State waters are divided into seven lobster fishing management zones; six of those zones require a certain number of licenses, or a certain number of trap tags, to be surrendered before a new one is issued. Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher is currently holding a series of meetings with fishermen around the state to review those regulations.

“Maybe instead of closing a zone, let’s be a little more selective about how we let fishermen into a zone,” said Virginia Olsen, the Stonington-based, secretary-treasurer of the Maine Lobstering Union.

Keliher said he aimed to come up with a comprehensive overhaul of the licensing system for the state legislature to consider.

Read more

Lawmakers endorse stripped-down version of lobster license change

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