Licensed lobstermen in the Mount Desert Island region oppose an effort to reduce how much time a trained apprentice must wait to get a license, according to the newly released state survey.

Regulations now require five lobstermen to give up their licenses before an apprentice on the local waiting list can be allowed into the fishery. The local lobster council asked the 511 license holders in the area if they would consider reducing that number to three lobstermen in a May survey.

Of the 217 people who responded, 120 lobstermen favored keeping the current five-to-one entry ratio and 84 wanted to adopt a more lenient three-to-one ratio for the zone, according to data from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, which tallied the results.

The local lobster council will discuss these results, and possibly vote on whether to pursue a new exit-to-entry ratio anyway, at a Sept. 21 meeting. The council does not have to follow the results of the survey.

Older license holders were more likely to support relaxing the entry ratio, while younger license holders and those running bigger operations, with licenses allowing them to have up to two sternmen aboard, were most likely to oppose relaxing the entrance requirements.

As of June, the regional wait list maintained by the DMR had 53 names on it, including 11 people who have completed their apprenticeships and have been waiting for more than a decade for their licenses.

Maine manages its lobster fishery through local lobster councils, made up of licensed lobstermen, which oversee seven geographic areas. The Mount Desert Island region is known as Zone B.

The Mount Desert Island region landed 16.9 million pounds of lobster in 2015 valued at $70.7 million dollars, which is fewer lobsters than in 2014 but at a higher profit. That made it the fourth busiest and most valuable lobstering area in Maine out of the seven regions.

Zone C, which is just to the west of Mount Desert Island and includes the busiest lobster ports in Maine, just voted to adopt a limited-entry system this month, after being an open zone where those who had completed apprenticeships didn’t have to wait a decade for a license. But its one-to-one exit-to-entry requirement would, if approved, be much more lenient.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or:

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