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Maine Considers Steps to Protect Lobsters

MAINE, US - Concern over an increased fishing effort has prompted the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to seek public comment on a proposal to restrict future access to the American lobster trap fishery in the inshore Gulf of Maine.

The notice aims to discourage American lobster non-trap vessels from entering the lobster trap fishery, and discourage American lobster trap vessels fishing in other lobster management areas from entering the area.

The American lobster fishery in the United States takes place from North Carolina to Maine. Over three-quarters of all American lobsters are landed in Maine, with most of the other landings occurring in or from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Long Island Sound, and Georges Bank.

The American lobster fishery is a year-round fishery in the United States, including the summer and fall months when the lobsters are molting. Approximately 96 per cent of lobsters are taken in lobster traps. The rest are taken in trawls, gillnets, dredges, and by divers.

There is concern over the dramatic increase in fishing effort since the 1970s and effort continues at historically high levels. NMFS estimates that each American lobster trap remains in the water about 30 per cent longer than in 1970 before being hauled. Current fishing effort removes a large proportion of lobsters before they have had a chance to spawn even once, and the average size of lobsters landed continues to drop.

the Fish Site Editor

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