AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee delayed any decisions Monday on how to reorganize the Maine Lobster Promotion Council or increase licensing surcharges in the state’s lobster industry.

The council, which now operates with an annual budget of about $380,000, could eventually get as much as $3 million for marketing the state’s leading seafood.

The proposal that went before the committee Monday calls for increasing surcharges virtually across the board, affecting lobster fishing and wholesale seafood dealer licenses, as well as other lobster-related licenses, to raise money that state and industry officials say is sorely needed to boost marketing of lobsters – especially in light of large catches and declining prices.

Several issues remain, including the amount of the surcharges and how they would be divided.
The committee also raised questions about a proposed reorganization of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council, focusing on the size and makeup of a new council.

Members sent the two bills back to the Department of Marine Resources for further work, to be reviewed at the committee’s next regular work session, which has not been scheduled.

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