AUGUSTA — A recent law change has made it easier for Maine students who have their sights set on a career in lobstering to get started.
LD 1503, signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage on April 5, extends the age deadline for young Mainers to fulfill requirements necessary to bypass the waiting lists of Maine’s six limited entry lobster management zones.
Previously, student license holders had to fulfill requirements of the Apprentice Program and any apprentice rules adopted by their management zone before they reached age 18.
“The only way for a young person to avoid the waiting list was to begin the apprenticeship program by the age of 15,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “Kids who have to focus so much time and effort on this program often forego other important pursuits, like sports or extracurricular activities, in order to get their apprentice time in.”
The new law provides two additional options for aspiring lobstermen. One option will allow individuals to bypass the waiting list in a declared zone if they have met the Apprentice Program requirements, received a high school or equivalency diploma and met additional apprentice program rules of the zone in which they want to fish before the age of 20.
The other option extends the eligible age to 23 for students enrolled at least half-time in college. License holders must have been eligible for a student license since before they were 18 and must have met additional apprentice program rules of the zone in which they want to fish.
Detailed instructions on the application process are available on the DMR website.