ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Maine Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher and Marine Patrol representatives are seeking approval this week for a regulatory change that would allow lobster trap tags to be re-used when replacing or re-rigging traps.
The change requires an amendment to the American Lobster Fishery Management Plan, so it must be approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Lobster Management Board.
The schedule for the ASMFC meetings in Virginia this week was adjusted due to weather concerns. The Lobster Board was set to meet Wednesday to consider the trap tag change and other management actions.
Current regulation requires “all trap tags be of a permanent design not transferable once attached to a trap.” When a trap is retired or sold, a lobsterman must apply to the state Department of Marine Resources (DMR) for exchange tags.
“The tag exchange program, over time, has become an administrative burden to both the DMR and the industry,” DMR representatives said in a statement. “It involves the sale, distribution, data entry and tracking of 30,000 plus exchange tags annually. In order to proactively address this issue, the DMR is proposing a change in the regulatory language.”
Last year, the Maine Marine Patrol made a presentation to the ASMFC Law Enforcement Committee seeking a way to enforce trap limits while allowing fishermen to re-use tags.
The proposed new language, according to meeting materials, reads “the lobster trap tag shall be affixed to the bridge of the lobster trap by any means, so that the tag information is clearly visible for inspection by a Marine Patrol officer.”