Today was potentially make-or-break day for LD 1097, a bill that would make it legal for groundfishermen to land lobster bycatch in Maine. In a unanimous vote today, the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources voted down the Bill, suggesting it will likely not pass full votes in the House and Senate. Two members of the Committee on Marine Resources were absent for today’s vote.
Proponents argue passage of the Bill would help Maine’s groundfishing fleet and bring Maine fishermen and their catch back to Maine. Currently it is legal to land bycatch lobster in Massachusetts, and many of Maine’s groundfisherman therefore land there catch in Gloucester. Opponents argue the Bill, if passed, would weaken the perceived sustainability of the Maine lobster fishery and would have a negative conservation impact.
The Bill is supported by Governor Paul LePage, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR). It is opposed by several prominent scientists and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), which posted on their Facebook page earlier today:
A big victory for the MLA! LD 1097 was just voted down by the Marine Resources Committee! The MLA says a big THANK YOU to all of our members who supported MLA’s effort to ensure that the groundfish draggers are not allowed to land lobster bycatch in Maine!
As a result of today’s action, it appears Maine will remain the only New England state that prohibits sales of lobster bycatch from federally regulated waters.
For more on the issue, see: