SOUTH BRISTOL — Rep. Chester A. Rice, R-South Bristol, is sponsoring legislation that would rein in the lobster fishing effort in Maine.
“I submitted this bill at the request of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association,” said Rice, a part-time lobsterman. “There is some grumbling among the fishermen, but overall, I think they realize that something must be done to preserve the resource. It’s important to look at the long-term future of the industry, not just today’s catch.”
The bill, An Act to Establish a Management Framework for the Lobster Fishery within State Waters, would create a four-year moratorium on new lobster and crab fishing licenses. Those holding licenses who own and operate a lobster boat and can document landings in 1993 and 1994 would be able to renew their licenses. If needed to offset any loss in revenue to the state’s general fund, a surcharge may be added to lobster licenses.
Uniform trap limits would be put in place beginning Jan. 1, 1996, when the maximum number of traps that can be hauled under a license would be 1,200. That total would drop to 1,100 traps in 1997, 1,000 traps in 1988, 900 traps in 1999 and 800 traps from 2000 on.
“The trap limits are something people will have to get used to, but if everyone is subjected to the same legislations, the catch-per-trap may well increase,” said Rice. “We all know there are too many traps out there.”
The bill also provides for a special student license for full-time students 25 and under. For a $46 fee, these student lobstermen would be allowed to haul up to 150 traps.