Lobster Council Mulls Fishery’s Future
by Steve Cartwright
Maintaining a sustainable fishery is the primary goal of a proposed Lobster Fishery Management Plan for Maine.
Deirdre Gilbert, policy director for the Department of Marine Resources, outlined the concept at a July 16 meeting of the Lobster Advisory Council in Hallowell. Some 30 lobstermen and others attended the session, several of them mentioning the disastrous decline of the fishery in southern New England waters.
Maine’s lobster catch is off to a slow start this summer, but may pick up. Officials acknowledge there are factors beyond the control of any management plan, but as DMR lobster biologist Carl Wilson put it, “we’ve kind of ridden the wave” of prolific lobster landings. “In a sense we’ve gotten lucky.”
Gilbert said the plan isn’t about ensuring 100 million pounds of lobster. “It’s not a numerical target that we’re working toward. Really, what we’re trying to say is, we’re working toward a sustainable fishery. That means understanding the role of the species in the ecosystem. She acknowledged that making recommendations will be a challenging task for the DMR, and she assured the council it would be involved in the process.
A written outline for the plan says, “We have an opportunity to define our own destiny for the Maine fishery.” This could involve charting what action DMR will take, and when, to restrict and protect the fishery for the long term.
Council member David Tarr of Brooklin said he supports the plan, and pointed to the overfishing of sea urchins as an example of what happens without planning. Jeff Putnam, council member from Chebeague Island, said the state should be pro-active, and