Downeast fishermen unhappy with state's plan for scallops

8:14 PM, Jan 17, 2014   |    comments
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WHITING, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- It could be an abrupt end to the season for many fishermen in Washington County who count on harvesting scallops.

Officials with Maine's Department of Marine Resources say they once again have to consider scaling back or even closing the scallop season around Cobscook Bay for the year. Right now harvesters can only fish the on the bay for three days a week. Many say that they are furious about the idea of losing more time on the water.

Scientists with the department say their concern is simple. According to their studies, if scallop harvesting in the bay doesn't stop now there might not be enough stock to support it going forward.

Last year scallop fishermen around Cobscook Bay caught about 380,000 pounds of scallops. This year officials project that already 278,000 pounds has been caught, which is about 75 percent of last year's harvest.

Scallop fishermen say they have faced season scale backs on the bay before. On Friday many showed up angry at the idea of limiting the season further. State marine officials admit the science behind the projections isn't perfect. They say however it is the best available and that's why they have to take every precaution.

"We time how long it takes for them {the fishermen} to catch the product," said marine resources commissioner Pat Keliher, "and if you see those times expanding..the catch lessening per hour you know that they're starting to get into a depletion stage."

"Government works wrong," said scallop fishermen Jonathan Wallace of Lubec, who attended the meeting, "they can make emergency rule making to take days way from us but they can't do any emergency rule making to give us anything..I mean when does a human being count for something besides nothing."

DMR officials said a decision might be reached on the bay by early next week. State officials have already planned ends to the scallop season in other parts of the state.

Keliher says whatever's decided he will keep the bay open to scalloping through next week.


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