Vol. 15, No. 1 - January 2010      News & Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine      SUBSCRIBE NOW!!
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Bluefin Tuna Get A Break
by Rich Ruais

For the past 19 years, under five different U.S. Federal Commissioners, the U.S. ICCAT delegation has packed their bags and traveled somewhere in the world during the month of November for 10 days or more with one of their major objectives always being to get the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin fisheries under control. For the last 18 years, the Delegation has returned home – sometimes with incremental paper progress, and always big promises.

All this changed last month in Recife, Brazil with an amazing bluefin breakthrough which included verifiable, substantive evidence of major progress in getting the Mediterranean bluefin tuna farms under control.

The Evidence

The first concrete sign of progress came from the ICCAT scientific group, the Standing Com- mittee on Research and Statistics (SCRS). The SCRS reported confidently that indeed 2009 catches would come in some 3,000 mt under quota at about 19,000 metric tons (MT), down from reported peak catches in excess of 60, 000 mt.

The second piece of solid evidence came from ICCAT’s Compliance Committee where, under the persistence of Chair- man Dr. Chris Rogers, NMFS International Division, the European Community (EC) and most North African countries came clean, confessed to past violations and provided (particularly the EC) solid evidence of measures taken to develop an infrastructure to monitor, control and report catches. The EC boasted loudly of the millions of euros spent to finally develop control measures.


International Committee for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna meeting Recife, Brazil, November, 2009. Environmental Non-Governmental Organization (ENGO) representatives nearly filled a section of the meeting hall. They are facing the main meeting hall where ICCAT members are seated. Their influence is said to have been essential in the changes to ICCAT policies that to date have ignored actual conservation. Photo by R.Ruais

Feds Indict MLA
by Mike Crowe
The lobster fishery of Maine has been regulated by fishermen for many years. Within the system of managing the viability the fishery, established by fishermen over generations, are a means for determining who can fish and where. Settlement of territorial disputes is done among fishermen. Going to the police or government to settle a dispute is just not done. In addition to being, among other things, bad form, it just doesn’t work as well. By going to authorities rather than reaching a settlement among fishermen and everyone moving on, there is a residue of government left all over everything.

These disputes, often over territory, might involve the cutting of lines leaving someone’s traps on the bottom. Sometimes a lot of gear is lost on the bottom this way. These actions are generally considered lobster wars, every lobster fishermen knows of them and a few have firsthand experience.

But in the 1950s a different sort of lobster war erupted on the Maine coast. It was called the “great lobster war” in Ron Formisano’s comprehensive book of the same name. The issue was the low price paid fishermen for lobster, and the fact that the price was controlled by lobster dealers.

Left to right: John Knight, Rodney Cushing, Leslie Dyer, and Alan Grossman at the federal courthouse in Portland, ME. The picture was taken during the price fixing trial. Photo courtesy of Barry Faber. The Great Lobster War, Ron Formisano, courtesy University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, Mass.