April 11, 2010

Catch-sharing rules set up complicated system

Fishermen are encouraged to join groups that will be assigned a share of the quota for each species.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Some of the sectors charge membership fees. They have hired managers -- with money from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- to help them decipher the complex groundfishing regulations and, as a group, keep track of how many fish have been landed and how many have been thrown back.

"It is phenomenally complex," said Hank Soule, former general manager of the Portland Fish Exchange and now manager of the Sustainable Harvest Sector.

Membership varies in each sector, from four to 50 boats. Some sectors are careful about who they let in because the whole sector is liable if one member breaks the rules, said Soule.

Fishermen in sectors are not expected to rush out and start fishing May 1, unlike fishermen in the common pool, who will probably fish as much as they can before the quota for the pool is filled.

"They are going to take a wait-and-see attitude, see what the fish prices do," said Soule.

There will be some help available for small-scale Maine fishermen in the months ahead.

The state is setting up a permit bank with $3 million in federal money that will lease out permits for fishing days or catch shares. The money is expected to be targeted for boats 45 feet and under. The permits will become available sometime later this year.


Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:



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