ELLSWORTH — The New England Fishery Management Council is hosting a public hearing on its proposed deep-sea coral amendment, which would have an impact on lobstermen who fish near Schoodic Ridge and Mount Desert Rock. The hearing is set for Ellsworth High School on Thursday, May 25, at 5 p.m.
The council is looking to implement measures that reduce the impacts of fishing gear on deep sea corals in New England. This amendment contains alternatives that aim to protect concentrations of corals in select areas and restrict the expansion of fishing into areas where corals are likely to be present. Deep-sea corals are fragile, slow-growing organisms that play an important role in the marine ecosystem and are vulnerable to various types of disturbance of the sea floor.
The council’s preferred alternative for the inshore Gulf of Maine would prohibit mobile bottom-tending gear within the Schoodic Ridge and Mount Desert Rock areas.
The council is leaning towards taking lobster traps out of the amendment language. The Department of Marine Resources urges lobstermen who fish in these areas to attend the meeting and voice their concerns about the council’s proposed amendment.