Thursday, 11 January 2018 17:15

Fishermen react to proposed lobster regulation changes Featured

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STATEWIDE - Fishermen have a chance to share their thoughts about proposed changes to lobster reporting rules Thursday night in Ellsworth.

Some concerned lobstermen say the changes are an "unnecessary" form of government regulation.

"It's one of those things that's gonna have 100% of fishermen against it," said Billy Bob Faulkingham, a lobsterman in Winter Harbor.

Up and down the east coast, fishing regulators are hoping to gain reaction from lobstermen about proposed changes to fishing rules.

"Probably if they're coming to us for a meeting, they've already made their minds up on it," Faulkingham said.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission proposes changes to the reporting requirements for lobster and crab.

Regulators want to know more details about where lobstermen are fishing and the type of gear they're using, among other things.

Fisheries' managers say it will help address the health of the Gulf of Maine, but lobstermen are leery about giving up their best kept secrets.

"Anybody who knows any fishermen knows they don't want to tell where they're fishing, where they're catching. That's a huge part of what we do," said Phillip Torrey, a lobsterman in Winter Harbor.

As of right now, 10% of lobstermen are randomly selected to report specific details of their fishing. These guys say even with current rules, that information isn't always accurate.

"It's not like you're hauling a string or trawl and then you're turning around, stepping into the wheel house and writing down that exact information and then going to the next one," said Torrey. " You're doing your work for the day, you're busy."

To them, this is unnecessary government regulation of information fisheries already have.

"That's more than enough to draw conclusions from, with the dealers reporting 100%," said Faulkingham. "So it's just something to give fishermen more of a headache."

"Most guys are willing to do whatever to help, and we all know the issues at hand, it's just finding that happy medium," Torrey said.  "Where we are trying to do what you want us to, but we don't want to go too far with it."

Similar hearings will be held in other New England states along with New York and New Jersey throughout the month.