Maine Lobster Zone C Council Meeting Minutes
Zone C Meeting Minutes
May 5, 2010 1:30 p.m.
Meeting Began – 1 p.m.
Introduction of council members.
Presentation by Kathleen Reardon - Sea Sampling and information from Sea Sampling.
Sea sampling has found what most fishermen know. But information can be proven by scientists now. There have been more short lobsters around the last couple years- especially in zone B&C.
Projector overheat- move on.
Approval of minutes from January 26 - Motion- vote unanimous to approve.
LAC minutes- Jan 28 from Dan MacDonald-
Dan Holland talked about Bio-Economic model has been working on for the lobster industry. He says that in order to get a 25% increase in profit the industry would have to decrease effort by 50% or have a quota and cut license numbers to around 880 from 6000 we have now.
John Drouin would like to have a Coast Guard rescue helicopter stationed Downeast. The closest one now is in Cape Cod.
Discussion of mandatory 3 year license suspension for trap molestation. The state has a law student looking into possible solutions.
LAC Meeting April 1-
Discuss bait issue and use of alternative bait. There is concern about bringing in virus from out of the area and infecting fish in the Gulf of Maine. They found that salting the bait and warming it up was the most effective way of killing any virus. Keeping it cold just preserved the virus.
There is a rule in place that once closed zones go down to 30% of license total from 1997 they will go to a 1:1 license ratio. There is discussion about changing the rule to 30% of license totals to 30% of tags. The law already has been changed so that tags are used in closed zones instead of licenses. 800 tags need to be retired to count as one license. Each zone feels differently. Zone C is open so it doesn't affect us.
Discussion of mandatory 3 year license suspension- Many people feel that 3 years is too long to loose a license- some feel that it is fine. Law student is looking into options for the state.
Lobster Task Force Update-
Marketing is the big issue for the lobster industry. We need to spend more money marketing lobsters. How? Who pays for it? 5 cent tax on each pound of lobsters sold? A lot of concern fishermen will end up paying for it one way or another and dealers will benefit.
Changes to halibut regulations-
Only get 25 tags instead of 50 and a shorter season.
Zone A - Sent out a 600 trap limit referendum. Mixed response. Vote 7 to 2 to not send it out to the zone to vote on. Then got lots of calls about it. Zone is divided.
Discuss taking a day off during the week to help with bait issue and limit lobsters in market. But decide it will only work if all zones to it. Mostly a dead issue.
Zone B- Sent out referendum to stop hauling at 4 pm. every day June – September. Lots of interest.
Zone D- discussed stop hauling at 4 pm.
Zone G- Discuss exit ratio and starting a student waiting list. Still a lot of effort. They want less.
State is thinking about changing council by-laws. In one place it says that if there is a 2/3 return from a referendum the council shall go ahead with the issue and in another it says the council may go ahead with the issue. The state wants to change it so it all says may go ahead with issue.
Shrimp season closed couple weeks early due to catching allotment.
LD1560- Act to eliminate the 3-trap limit in the waters of the state. Changes from law to rule. Allow zone councils to set their own number.
LD 1584-An act to require that marine resources dealers purchase only from licensed harvesters.
Mostly for shellfish.
LD 1593- an act to amend the lobster meat laws and expand economic opportunity for Maine's lobster industry. Knuckles and claws bill. Allows just processors to sell parts of lobster where they couldn't before but Canada could. Opens up more markets. Still have to buy a whole lobster but now can sell just parts of the lobster in packages.
LD 1604- An act to clarify the marine resources law to provide for the protection of public safety and welfare. Gives commissioner more power to close down fisheries. Anything that threatens public health, public safety, and prevent property damage can be used as a reason to close an area to commercial fishery. He has to go out within 48 hrs. to meet with the effected group.
Continue Sea sampling presentation with Kathleen Reardon- The stock assessment helps fishermen a lot. They have proven that not only are fishermen actively V notching lobsters but that it makes a difference. Many other states didn't believe we were even V-notching lobsters.
All zones have 80-90% compliance for notching except zone A, which is next to Canada who doesn’t V-notch their lobsters.
They have found that lobsters mature sooner from west to east, most likely due to the warmer water temp.
The minimum measure is very close to the age that female lobsters are mature enough to reproduce. Usually larger females have more and larger babies. Female lobsters that are over the large measure produce a lot of baby lobsters. We throw back about 24 million pounds of V – notched lobsters a year.
Ventless Trap program –
Going for 4 years. This will be fifth year. Usually have to do a project a minimum of five years to be able to see much of a trend. They have seen lobsters decrease some down east and increase a little in the west. Mid coast has been about average.
Seed Fund discussion-
Zone voted previously to give a 50-50 split to research and seed lobsters. Set up to distribute $3500 of lobsters in June from Stonington Co-Op.
Motion – Vote- council decides to split $10,000 equally for research and seed lobsters. $5000 of seed lobsters to be from Vinalhaven.
Discussion of B&C double tagging-
Anyone can fish up to 49% of their traps in B or C if they are from the other zone but have to put in removable tags in to fish in the other zone. Started as an issue off shore but has affected whole zone, discussion of ending it at the three mile line.
It is a hardship for many guys who fish their historical bottom but have to move between zones. Having different tags is a pain but enforcement has to have them if they want to enforce the law. Very long council discussion- Zone B was in favor of double tagging and Zone C was not, but it still went ahead. Many Zone C guys are not happy and don't feel there is much of a chance to resolve the situation.
Discussion of zone recommendation to LAC in regards to changing exit ratio from licenses to tags. Motion for Zone C to be neutral.
Ryan Haskell asked council and audience if there is any interest in setting up Coast Guard safety exams in harbors and /or a drill conductor safety course. No interest.
Next meeting discussion. Would like to have meetings that are more accessible to islanders. Closer and earlier so they can get on ferry. Next meeting set in September at 6 pm. in Stonington.
Meeting adjourned 4:45 pm