ROCKPORT — No matter what the weather may be doing, the evidence that spring is just around the corner is incontrovertible.
Last week, pitchers and catchers reported to Major League Baseball training camps throughout Florida and Arizona. Next week, hundreds of fishermen, fisheries regulators, scientists and merchants selling everything marine from massive lobster boats and the gear needed to build and equip them to buoy sticks and health insurance will gather at the Samoset Resort for the 44th edition of the annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum.
The Forum opens on Thursday Feb. 28, and runs through Sunday, with most of the activities crammed into the intervening Friday and Saturday. In addition to a huge maritime trade show and dozens of serious seminars, the Forum includes a variety of social activities and a silent auction and dinner that funds a significant scholarship program for children of fishing families pursuing postsecondary education.
Thursday is “shellfish focus day,” and this year the focus should be intense.
At 1 p.m., the New England Fishery Management Council will hold the first of 10 region-wide scoping meetings to get input from fishermen on a series of proposals that could significantly reshape the scallop fishing outside Maine waters in the northern Gulf of Maine.
On Friday, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association will hold its annual meeting and, presumably, get an earful from Mary Anne Mason, the Washington, D.C., attorney representing the MLA in the ongoing struggle over ever stricter whale protection measures — the subject of a separate seminar later in the day.
Saturday will feature, among other events, meetings of the state’s alewife and elver harvesters, a seminar on scallop farming and the pre-season meeting that will set the schedule and rules for the upcoming summer lobster boat racing season.