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As Price For Catch Falls, Maine Lobstermen Seek Ways To Prevent Crash

Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press
Lobstermen have a brief chat before heading out to sea to begin setting traps for the upcoming summer season, Thursday, May 14, 2020, in Portland, Maine.

Dock prices for lobster in Maine are dropping as low as $2.30 a pound, and lobstermen and regulators are looking at options to prevent a full-fledged crash.Anti-glut tactics might include limiting days at sea, narrowing size limits or barring the catch of single-clawed lobsters to reduce the overall haul.

In an online meeting Monday, Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher told Downeast lobstermen that he's found no consensus on the best course of action.

Lobsterman Jim Hanscom, of Bar Harbor, says he is wary of intervention by Gov. Janet Mills. "This governor scares me on a lot of levels, and the idea of her having the ability on shutting this fishery down or stopping dealers from buying, I think it's just dangerous."

Keliher is scheduled to brief Mills on the issue Tuesday, but says he doesn't believe that she would invoke broad executive authority without good reason.

Keliher is also warning that Maine bait fishermen who are going after menhaden as an alternative to the struggling herring fishery should be careful to avoid creating a glut and dumping unsellable fish overboard, because that could invite regulatory action.

 

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.