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Lobstermen speak in favor of midwater ban
March 09, 2007
Free Press Online
At the all-day session on the future of herring in the Gulf of Maine, Maine lobstermen spoke in favor of a continued ban on mid-water pair trawling. Herring are the preferred bait for lobstermen throughout New England. Members of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association contend that pair trawling, in which two vessels set a huge net around a school of fish and slowly draw the net closed before hauling the whole thing on deck, is an ecologically damaging technique because it successfully takes everything within the reach of the net-herring, non-targeted fish, marine mammals, or other creatures-and it breaks up large herring schools. The lobstermen favor purse seining, where a smaller net is set at the surface and drawn through the water to be sorted before stored in a vessel’s hold.
The Council implemented Amendment 1 to its herring management plan in December 2006, prohibiting pair trawling in selected areas of the Gulf from June to September each year. Some fishermen say that the herring stocks are sufficiently strong to withstand any fishing technique; others argue that the reduced Total Allowable Catch quota set by the Council last year indicates that the Gulf of Maine stock, at least, still needs protection.