Sept 7th 2021 fishermen gathered at the Island Community Center to speak with Commissioner Keliher concerning upcoming changes to the lobster industry. It was clear fishermen were concerned and angered by the zone C, D, and E closure to traditional fishing in October, November, and December as well as the additional 3 (now 4) green markers they will need to fish federal waters. These green markers will need to be removed to fish state waters making it nearly impossible to use those same end-lines (ropes) which would require fishermen offshore to purchase a new set of end-lines for Maine waters with just purple tracers or markers in them. These markings must be implemented by May 1, 2022, The rope-less fishing closure will take effect 30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register. It should also be noted that NOAA did not include any financials to the cost of including these additional marker lines... We gathered information quickly and submitted it to the Commissioner to be included in his findings.
The Commissioner was very clear that he agreed with the fishermen that rope-less gear was not ready for deployment in the Gulf of Maine. With best case 70% deployment of the buoy to surface it's not anywhere near ready for Maine waters. Keliher did say it was time for the rope-less discussion and for very difficult conversations around what our fishery was going to look like in this next round of 60% reduction of end-lines in 2025 which would have to be discussed at length over the next few years. I did not seem apparent that DMR was going to fight back legally to any portion of this rule, other than getting involved in the case as interveners now, which we suggested at the beginning. Now they will have the same standing at the MLU, MLA, MaLA and Little Bay.
It is very important to note the BiOp is necessary for the permitting of our fishery, without it our entire fishery would close.