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Business and Economy

U.S. House Approves Bill Aimed at Helping Maine Urchin Industry

PORTLAND, Maine - The U.S. House has passed legislation that could help Maine's urchin dealers. The bill would exempt urchin imports and exports from mandatory inspections by federal wildlife officials.
Maine 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree says the lack of timely inspections would sometimes leave product lying around for days at airports, often in un-refrigerated storage areas, "particularly over the Christmas holidays, because that was the big shipping season," Pingree says. "And often there weren't regular inspectors on duty, so we were finding story after story where these shipments can be worth $10,000, $20,000 and more, and that's just a lot of product to lose."

Democrat Pingree and Republican 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin introduced the provision and got it attached to a major spending bill. "This is all about jobs,"  Poliquin said in a statement. He said there are more than 650 Mainers whose livelihoods depend on urchin harvesting and processing.