ELLSWORTH — The Maine Urchin Harvesters Association, at the request of urchin divers, tenders, draggers and buyers, will hold a meeting from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, in the Acadia Room at the Holiday Inn.
During the meeting, the MUHA will: solicit memberships; determine the issues that affect each region; poll the respective memberships on proposals for further action as an association; and decide what part the MUHA will play in the legislative and regulatory process.
Among the issues expected to be discussed are: season closures; present and future resource protection measures; zoning proposals from different interests; OSHA compliance; diver safety; state-mandated commercial diving training; and fleet fishing.
In addition to the meeting Thursday night, an important hearing on a bill that will directly impact every member of the urchin industry will be held at 1:30 p.m. that same day in the Augusta Civic Center. The bill is titled “An Act to Amend the Sea Urchin Harvesting and Licensing Laws and to Establish the Sea Urchin Fund.”
The bill would shorten the sea urchin closed season from three months to two months and increase license fees. The increase would be dedicated to the Sea Urchin Fund to be used by the Department of Marine Resources for sea urchin resource conservation, research and enforcement.
According to the bill, fees for hand-harvesting boat and tender licenses would increase from $89 to $250, and a sea urchin processor permit would be created at a fee of $2,500. The sea urchin processor permit would be issued only to current holders of wholesale seafood licenses.