Governor Speaks at 36th Annual Maine Fisherman’s Forum

March 4, 2011

Augusta, Maine – Governor Paul LePage attended the 36th annual Maine Fisherman’s Forum Friday in Rockport where he addressed more than three hundred fishermen, clammers, lobstermen, aquaculturalists and others from Maine’s Marine Resource Industry. The Forum is the largest event of its kind in New England, which is dedicated to offering participants an opportunity to meet on neutral ground with fisheries managers, Legislators, and members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation.

Governor LePage highlighted the importance of the future of Maine’s fishing industry. “Maine’s fishing industry is key to ensuring our coastal communities have a secure future. The people of Maine need to know that they will have meaningful, sustained employment that will allow them to raise their families in their own communities. And the kids that are learning the ways of the water today, need the option to stay in the industry and their communities when they grow up,” said Governor LePage.

The Governor outlined ways Maine can develop incentives to bring Maine ground fishing vessels and their hundreds of thousands of pounds of landings back to Maine ports. “This legislative session, the Taxation Committee gave unanimous approval to a bill to end the collection of sales tax on fuel used by Maine ground fishing vessels, as one way of evening the playing field with Massachusetts,” said Governor LePage. “We will continue to remove impediments to the processing sector, to give them the flexibility to create the products that today’s consumer demands. When Maine processors have the freedom to innovate, the opportunities are endless.”

The Governor also talked about how sustainability and community are a large part of keeping the industry afloat. The Governor said sustainable resources are necessary to give everyone – from the harvesters, to the dealers, to the processors - the confidence that the businesses, the products, and the markets that they have worked so hard to build, will not evaporate overnight as a result of wide fluctuations in either raw material availability or the regulatory environment.

“Aquaculturalists need to know that their regulatory environments are stable, and that they will be able to invest and expand to local and international markets,” Governor LePage said. “Boat owners - commercial fishermen, charter boat operators, and recreational fishermen - need to know that marine resources are being prudently managed to ensure long-term availability, and that any allocations that they receive can be effectively and fully utilized. By working together, we can create even more opportunities to enhance the lives of the people of Maine.”

The Maine Fisherman’s Forum was founded in 1976 and provides opportunities to educate the public and the fishing industry about fisheries and marine resource issues, and to provide a neutral platform for constructive discussion and decision making.

For more information on the Maine Fisherman’s Forum visit http://www.mainefishermensforum.org/

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Photo: Gov. LePage speaking with a Maine Fisherman's Forum participant