State regulators are relaxing some rules for Maine's valuable elver fishery, in order to get the delayed season underway while maintaining safe practices during the coronavirus pandemic.
Licensed fishermen will be able to harvest not only their own quotas, but those of others as well, and to bring them all to dealers. The goal, says Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols, is to reduce the number of people involved on a daily basis.
"So that will reduce the number of harvesters on the banks and at the shops where they're sold," Nichols says. "At the same time dealers have agreed to a set of guidelines intended to provide protection at the shops."
Marine Patrol officers will monitor the new system and if significant non-compliance is found, DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher says he will close the fishery.
The federal stimulus bill the Senate passed last night includes $300 million to assist fisheries and aquaculture. Sen. Susan Collins says fishery-related businesses would be eligible if they suffer coronavirus-related losses of 35 percent or more compared to their five-year average.