An area off the coast of Maine will close to lobstering this fall. The closure is part of new regulations connected to the endangered North Atlantic right whale and were released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. PHOTO COURTESY OF NOAA

Maritime Shorts: Fishery rules, bycatch projects, renewal hearings

Lobster fishery rules published 

WASHINGTON — The new rules for the lobster fishery enacted to help the endangered North Atlantic right whale have been published in the Federal Register, which starts the 30-day clock until a fishing closure in the Gulf of Maine begins.  

The rules were published on Sept. 17 and include a seasonal closure of a large swath of offshore fishing grounds that run from just east of Mount Desert Island to an area off Casco Bay. The closure of 967 square miles will take place annually from October to January. This first year, fishermen will be able to fish for the first couple weeks of October because of when the rules were published 

State officials and lobstermen have said that the closure is an overreach and won’t help save the whales. The state has hired special counsel to help them navigate legal avenues to fight the new rules.  


NOAA bycatch projects announced 

BAR HARBOR — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced $2.2 million for 12 research projects across the country to try and cut down on bycatch. Two of the projects will look at ropeless fishing in the Gulf of Maine. 

LobsterLift LLC was awarded $185,590 to develop an interoperable ropeless fishing system for the lobster fishery. Ropeless fishing does not use the persistent vertical lines that run from the lobster traps on the seafloor to the buoy on the surface. Instead, acoustic devices can call them up on demand. There have been concerns about how lobstermen would know where another lobstermen’s gear is without the marker buoys. LobsterLift is trying to develop a system that can work across acoustic communication systems and allow lobstermen to test systems in close proximity to one another. 

Sea Mammal Education Learning Technology Society was granted $246,458 to continue research from last year for ropeless fishing with lift bags for lobstermen and gillnet fishermen.  

Ropeless technology largely fits into two categories: traps that release buoys or traps that rise with balloon-like lift systems.  


Application renewal hearing set 

BROOKSVILLE — A public hearing will be held next month on an aquaculture renewal application for a shellfish and sea urchin site in the Bagaduce River.  

Jesse Leach is applying to renew the existing 4.13-acre lease west of Bear Head in the towns of Brooksville and Sedgwick.  

Leach has requested a 20-year lease to continue suspended and bottom culture at the location.  

The state Department of Marine Resources will hold a public hearing on the lease on Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. at Brooksville Town Hall. 

Those wishing to ask questions or testify at the hearing are asked to register on the DMR website by Sept. 28. Potential intervenors on the application have the same deadline. 

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