The New England Fishery Management Council is considering closing two areas to all fishing, the circular area shown on the chart near Mount Desert Rock (left) and a roughly rectangular area south of Petit Manan, to protect deep sea corals from damage. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE NEFMC

Lobstering in deep coral approved

ELLSWORTH —The New England Fishery Management Council has given preliminary approval to a plan to protect corals in the Gulf of Maine and on the Continental Slope south of Georges Bank from the ravages of commercial fishing but exempted the Maine lobster fishery from a proposed ban on the use of fishing gear that would affect the sea floor.

On Tuesday, April 18, by a reported vote of 14-1, the council adopted a preferred alternative plan under its proposed Omnibus Coral Protection Amendment for the inshore Gulf of Maine that would prohibit both trawls and dredge – but not lobster traps and pots – within both the Schoodic Ridge and Mount Desert Rock areas.

According to a statement released last week, council members recognized the potentially devastating economic impact of preventing the lobster fishery from working within those inshore areas and acknowledged that shifts in effort to other locations could be problematic.

Data gathered by the Department of Marine Resources and presented to the council showed that the proposal to ban lobster fishing around Schoodic Ridge and Mount Desert Rock would have an especially damaging impact on fishermen from Lobster Management Zone B, which includes areas such as Mount Desert Island, Winter Harbor and Swans Island.

The New England Fishery Management Council will announce a public hearing schedule on the coral protection proposals sometime next month.


Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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