WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Maine Lobstermen’s Association, Downeast Lobstermen’s Association and Maine Lobstermen’s Union are weighing in, along with groups from other states, on the new National Marine Monument proposed for Cashes Ledge and the New England Canyons in the Gulf of Maine. The Committee on Natural Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives was set to hold an oversight hearing Tuesday, Sept. 29, on national monument designations.
“To unilaterally allow such a designation would usurp the established habitat and fisheries management public process and could be economically catastrophic not only to the commercial and charter fishermen but also to hundreds of small coastal communities in New England,” a letter from the industry groups to President Obama says. “The iconic New England commercial lobster industry has historically fished within the Cashes Ledge and canyon areas without harm to the habitat/bottom.
“State and federal fisheries managers have recognized the significance of this area and taken steps to ensure the long-term protection of this unique habitat area. This includes prohibitions of mobile bottom tending gear from the area.
The only fixed-gear commercial fishery currently allowed is the lobster fishery, which is managed under the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Act, via the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and NOAA Fisheries. These organizations have determined that the placement of lobster pots on the bottom has negligible impact on the habitat/bottom as Cashes Ledge continues to thrive even with lobster fishing taking place.”