Algae blooms monitored
FRENCHMAN BAY — The Bureau of Public Health is closely monitoring Pseudo-nitzschia (toxic algae) blooms in the Frenchman Bay and Harpswell regions. The algae cell counts in water samples are relatively high, but the toxin in shellfish samples has so far remained below closure limits. However, because of the ability for this toxin to accumulate in shellfish rapidly, precautionary closures are being used between sampling events to ensure harvested shellfish are safe for consumption and to avoid recalls of product. At least two rounds of shellfish sampling are occurring weekly in the affected areas. Harvesters should pay close attention to biotoxin closure notices to be sure their area is open. Closures, re-openings and informational bulletins are sent out via email with a subscription through Maine.gov or available on the MDR website.
BAR HARBOR — The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission had its annual meeting the week of Oct. 19. At the meeting, the Lobster Board reviewed and approved the 2020 Lobster Stock Assessment, which continues to show positive biomass trends for the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank stock. The Atlantic Menhaden Board set the 2021 and 2022 menhaden Total Allowable Catch (TAC) at 194,400 metric tons. The Striped Bass Board also began work on a public scoping document for Amendment 7, which is considering a number of changes.
The New England Fishery Management Council met Sept. 28 through Oct. 1. The council took final action on Scallop Amendment 21, creating an 800,000-pound set aside for the Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) federal scallop fishery. This means that the first 800,000 pounds of NGOM quota will be allocated to LAGC Category A and B permit holders fishing in NGOM; quota above 800,000 pounds will be split across all fishery components. The council also took final action on Groundfish Amendment 23, which focused on observer coverage in the commercial fishery. The council voted for an observer coverage target of 100 percent as long as there are federal funds to reimburse industry. In the absence of federal funding, the minimum observer coverage rate was set at 40 percent.
New patrol boat ordered
BOOTHBAY — Marine Patrol is currently working with Farrin Boat Shop in Bristol to build a 42-foot Calvin Beal patrol vessel that will replace the patrol vessel, Monitor, which burned earlier this year. The new patrol vessel will be stationed in Boothbay Harbor once completed.
Marine Patrol new hires
BOOTHBAY — Marine Patrol completed a second round of new hire candidate interviews recently, and three candidates have been selected to move on to the physical fitness test followed by a chief’s interview.
Officers in sections two and three continue to focus extra effort in the Vinalhaven area following a trap molesting complaint, with hundreds of traps having already been reported cut off. The incident made landfall last week with a reported intentional vehicle crash between the two parties, resulting in an assault charge and a felon in possession of a firearm.
Patrol has also been working a trap molesting complaint on Matinicus Island where one fisherman has reported losing in excess of 400 traps.