Meetings on tap to consider sea urchin, halibut and elver rules

ELLSWORTH — June is coming and, as always, it looks like a big month for get-togethers — not all of them weddings.

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, the Department of Marine Resources will host a hearing at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer to take public comment on proposed changes to the American Eel Fishery Management Plan. A day later, it will repeat the process at DMR headquarters, 32 Blossom Lane in Augusta.

Those meetings are among a series to be held in Atlantic coastal states from Maine to Florida to consider the revisions contained in what is known as Draft Addendum V to the Atlantic States Fisheries Management Commission plan that controls the state’s elver fishery that, as of May 15, was worth more than $20 million with three weeks left in the season.

Among the changes that may be under consideration in Addendum V is a substantial increase in Maine’s 9,688-pound elver landing quota established by the ASMFC to protect the American eel resource.

The second week of June will be a busy one for DMR.

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, the department will hold a public hearing at its Augusta headquarters on a proposed regulation to set the urchin fishing season for 2018-2019.

The department will hold another 6 p.m. hearing on the issue on Thursday, June 7, at Ellsworth City Hall.

Among other changes, the regulation would establish open harvest days for the taking of sea urchins. For Zone 1 (essentially between the New Hampshire border and western Penobscot Bay), DMR has proposed a 20-day season from which harvesters may choose up to 15 days to fish, the same number of days allowed during the 2017-2018 season.

For Zone 2, harvesters could choose 38 fishing days during a 45-day season, the same as the season that ended this spring.

Taking two bites of the apple during a busy season, on June 5 DMR will also hold a 5 p.m. hearing at its Augusta headquarters to consider changes to the state’s halibut fishing regulations.

The department also will hold hearings on the halibut regulation at 5 p.m. on June 7 at Ellsworth City Hall and at 5 p.m. on June 6 at the University of Maine Machias Science Building.

The conservation-driven regulations would:

  • Reduce the state waters halibut season by 10 days at each end of the season (resulting in a season of May 11 to June 20).
  • Reduce the number of hooks allowed from 450 to 250.
  • Prohibit the possession of halibut license holders with Maine state-issued commercial halibut tags beyond the three-mile limit of state waters.
Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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