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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Maine's groundfish fleet is getting smaller and smaller every year. Horrible. Article from PPH:

Groundfish boats headed south

"Groundfishing trawlers, which have vanished from their historic home ports of Rockland, Eastport and Boothbay, now appear to be abandoning Portland, Maine's last remaining groundfishing hub.

Portland's fleet of medium and large draggers left the harbor for Massachusetts before Christmas, and most boats have yet to return. On a recent day, at least 13 Portland-based or formerly Portland-based draggers were in Gloucester Harbor. In Portland, there were two.

The migration has cut the supply of local fish for Portland processors and is costing area businesses that serve the fleet millions of dollars in lost revenue."
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
loligo wrote:
It's about the lobsters- isn't it?

Thats certainly a big part of it. I would imagine that, if the gf boats are getting their limit of lobsters, that they would be inclined to go into MA where they can actually sell those lobsters. It sounds like a lot of lobsters are caught by the gf guys, but I cannot say for sure since I am not a dragger.

BUT, there are also other issues. The big one is steam time. Where are the boats fishing? Are they so far to the south or southeast that they would go into MA regardless? I have heard plenty of people say that is often the case.

From what I have heard plenty of gf guys say, there are not enough fish up here right now to make it worthwhile fishing out of ME, even if they could land lobsters. They (boats that have left) have to fish far enough south that they have to go into MA. I think that is why you see the Port Clyde boats (small boats that have stayed in Maine, some of the last guys left here) have been so focused on issues like trying to get the MW boats out of the closed areas. I think they see the amount of fish as the biggest issue, not the lobster landing issue.

But I dont want to downplay the whole lobster issue, because if you listen to the boats leaving, it sounds like a major part of the decision. I also dont want to put words in the mouths of gf guys....just telling you what I have heard and how it appears to me as a non gf-guy. It just seems that if there were a decent amount of groundfish off Maine, the lobster thing would not matter.

Regardless of any of that, because of the power that is held by the lobstermen in this state, this rule is probably never going to change, so the gf guys should probably either leave or do something else to make it work so that they can stay in Maine. I would hope that they would try and find a way to make it work here instead of giving up, like the Port Clyde guys are trying to do.



This post edited by twofinbluna 02:15 AM 02/12/2008
 

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You are correct, both lobster and the DAS (days at sea) clock are moving boats from ME to MA. It's all about money. These guys are fighting to stay in business. It wasn't that long ago when the boats would shack the lobster. Today every penny counts.

Some MSA (Magnuson Stevens Act) national standards have more clout then others. Number eight is never given much attention and our fishing communities are disappearing because of it. I wonder if things would be any different if NMFS was located in a fishing community which was disappearing instead of Gloucester.

MSA National Standard Number Eight:
Conservation and management measures shall, consistent with the conservation requirements of this Act (including the prevention of overfishing and rebuilding of overfished stocks), take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities in order to (A) provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and (B) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities.


Link to MSA
 

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Shack = split the money w/ crew and sometimes captain (if he wasn't the owner), but the boat didn't get a share. Now at least here in NY shack is all but gone. Most boats get a piece of all the action. All the action the owner knows about anyway.


Common dragger caught shack items were: Lobster, Sea Scallops, Monk Livers, Swords and Tuna.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
MakoMike wrote:
I find it hard to be sympathetic, they legislated them out of the state.


I dont think anyones asking for your sympathy, Mike. It is still a shame, whether you feel bad for them or not, IMO.

This post edited by twofinbluna 03:58 AM 02/13/2008
 

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Personally, I do feel bad for the fish exchange and the area businesses that will suffer. But as far as feeling bad for ground fisherman, I don?t because they did this to themselves. The reason there?s not enough fish left to make a good living is because they over fished for so many years (that?s obvious) and the management was very poor. The major problem I have is with them wanting to take lobsters they catch in there nets, so they ruined there fishery and now they want to ruin the lobster industry to? I?m very glad to see that Maine continues to prohibit them from catching lobsters in there nets and selling them in the state. The state realizes lobstering is a far more important fishery then ground fishing ever was or will ever be in Maine that is. Last year lobster landings in Maine totaled around 297 million dollars while groundfish landings were only worth a few million. The state stands behind the lobsterman which I believe is good. Another issue is if the draggers aren?t trying to take lobsters away from real lobsterman fishing with conventional traps, then there dragging on the lobster grounds, entangling with gear and in some cases causing major trap loss. So again, I do feel sorry for the businesses in Portland that will suffer, but as far the draggers go...good riddance.
 

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Midcoast, I think they will still be draggin in Maine, just not returning to Portland to sell the catch. I think Maine looses here. I also hate to think that a dragger would intentionally target lobsters as that would beat the tar out of everything for little gain. Its a mess.
 

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Brenainn, your right they will still be dragging in Maine, but from what I understand it will be far reduced from what it was when they were fishing out of Maine. I could be wrong here, but thats what i have heard.
 

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The lobster as a bycatch issue isn't new, it's just catching up with these economically challenged times and it only makes sense to me that if they can sell their bugs here, that they'd just relocate here.

The issue of the bycatch itself is the real motivator for the mov, IMO. I think it's a good idea to let them land them since they are already catching them. Why should the lobstermen have the exclusive on the species, I mean nobody is telling them they can't land the fish they catch in the traps, to the contrary, they are allowed a bycatch of some fish species up to certain amount, by regulation....too bad they don't think their fellow fishermen deserve the same.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
midcoastfishing wrote:
Brenainn, your right they will still be dragging in Maine, but from what I understand it will be far reduced from what it was when they were fishing out of Maine. I could be wrong here, but thats what i have heard.

A big part of this issue is where the boats are fishing and I think its safe to say that many of the Maine boats have been fishing outside of Maine waters (waters off Maine, dont mean just 'state waters'). Many of the boats that have left are the biggest boats and they fish Georges and other places well offshore and not nearly as much in waters off Maine. Sometimes we see boats in Jordan Basin and places like that, but at least in my expeience, most of these boats fish far out and often closer to MA than ME.

The smaller draggers who fish closer to shore are not the ones leaving as much as the big boats. The Port Clyde fleet, which is probably the last fleet of Maine boats really fishing off Maine, is not part of this exodus. They are working on ways to make the fishery better- fighting for better rules on MW boats, pushing for things like area management, and finding better ways to market what they do catch.

It is important to realize that the Portland boats are the biggest boats, for the most part, and they are the ones leaving. While I could be wrong, I would bet that many of the places they fish currently are closer to MA than ME, and well offshore.

While lobsters is an issue that impacts their decisions, the state of the groundfish stocks off Maine is certainly a huge part. This is NOT all about lobsters. If the boats are fishing in an area that is much closer to MA, there is a lot of incentive to go into MA. Lobsters are a lot of money and all, but so is fuel.

Again, I have no doubt that the lobster issue is an important one, but lets not pretend as if its the only one (or for some, even the most important one). It would be good to have a groundfish guy who is in the fishery discuss this and see what they think.

This post edited by twofinbluna 09:55 PM 02/13/2008
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
What is ironic about this is that some of the leaders of Maine's 'big boat' fleet are also ones that have not only done little to fight the MW boats, but some even are involved in the MW fishery! In fact, one well known Portland fisherman is known to be THE person that made it possible for the MW fleet to come in like it did! How stupid is that if you are a groundfish fishermen and you help usher in a fleet that most believe has done serious damage to groundfish stocks!

It should be NO surprise to those boat owners that the groundfish rebuilding has not happened as planned when we have allowed the MW boats to not only pound the forage but also catch a lot of groundfish as bycatch.

If, instead of pounding the herring and groundfish stocks with their MW boats, they had worked with the other groundfishermen in this state to get rid of the MW boats, they would have MUCH healthier groundfish stocks and may not have had to leave for MA.

Luckily, you have the Port Clyde guys, and others from around Maine, fighting the fight to get the MW boats out of groundfish closed areas, instead of bailing on the problem.

This post edited by twofinbluna 11:46 PM 02/13/2008
 
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