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Lobstermen and Midwater Trawlers Meet
June 01, 2006
Prospect Harbor Lobster fishermen met with the operators of midwater trawlers on May 17 in Prospect Harbor, during a scheduled selectmen’s meeting. Four 150’-trawlers, the largest to ever enter the harbor, will be supplying Stinsonís packing plant with herring beginning in June. Lobstermen are concerned about their gear in the harbor. The two groups spread out charts of the harbor and settled on a route the trawlers could take to avoid tearing up lobster gear.
The groups also discussed where the trawlers, owned by Western Sea Fisheries, would fish. The three trawler company representatives were asked if they would trawl inshore on the Schoodic Ridges if they didnít find the herring they wanted on Georges Bank.
Gerry O’Neil, a major shareholder in Cape Seafoods, Inc., Swan Net East Coast Services and Western Sea Fisheries said, “We are ninety-nine percent sure that we would only be fishing on Georges Bank.” He added, “The size herring we want are on Georges Bank and not inshore on the Schoodic Ridges, so there would be no reason for us to fish there [Schoodic Ridges]”.
The arrival of the large trawlers is a result of a shortage of herring. Stinsonís plant manager Al West said that in recent years, the company has found it difficult to meet the quantity demands for herring in the plant that employs about 200 people. Stinsonís sought out and made an agreement with the mid-water trawler company to have their trawlers come to Prospect Harbor with herring. Stinsonís is the last herring cannery in Maine. Less than ten years ago there were five canneries.
The trawlers will trawl in pairs on Georges, split off with going to Prospect harbor and the other to Gloucester. The second pair would then do the same.
After the first of the year, all midwater trawlers will be banned from the inshore areas in the Gulf of Maine. Some fishermen were concerned that the trawlers would make a “last chance” haul inshore this season that might further jeopardize what they consider to be a threatened herring stock. Maine lobstermen recently voted in support of the inshore ban on midwater trawlers in the Gulf of Maine.