ROCKPORT, Maine — The annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum is set to begin later this week, and for a certain handful of fishermen it will be their first time attending the event.
Seminars ranging from wind power to scallops to the usual assortment of lobster-related topics have been scheduled for the three-day event, which will take place at the Samoset Resort in Rockport from Thursday through Saturday, March 4-6.
One new item scheduled for this year’s forum is aimed at bringing an international or perhaps even global perspective to the Maine lobster industry, which is the largest in the state both in terms of volume and value. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association has organized a lobstermen’s exchange that is expected to bring half a dozen or so lobstermen from Tasmania, West Australia, Ireland, Puerto Rico and the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island to the forum for the first time.
“During these challenging [economic] times, it’s important to share information and hear about what’s working for lobstermen in other regions,” Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said in a prepared statement about the exchange.
The foreign fishermen will be at the forum to meet from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 4, with Maine fishermen and to “talk shop” about their fisheries. According to a description of the seminar, it will be an informal session during which attendees can compare and contrast boats and gear, regulations and management, what roles the lobster industry plays in their regional or national economies and how they have been affected by the global economy.
In addition to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, Maine Sea Grant, Island Institute, Diversified Communications and members of Maine’s lobster industry are helping to make the exchange possible, according to forum organizers.
The group of international lobstermen is expected to make several community visits along the coast the week after the forum. On March 7, lobstermen are scheduled to attend a community dinner in Cutler and then in the successive days to meet with fishermen in Jonesport, on Mount Desert Island, in Stonington, Vinalhaven, Thomaston, Phippsburg, at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, and then on Long Island in Casco Bay.
Information about the community visits can be found at www.mainelobstermen.org.
Other seminar topics planned for this week’s forum include ocean acidification, an experimental summer shrimp season, groundfish sectors, tidal and offshore wind energy development, herring science, lobster trap configurations and densities, scallop management, and others.
On Friday morning, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association plans to hold its annual meeting at the event and a forum for Maine gubernatorial candidates has been scheduled. Among the candidates expected to attend are Steve Abbott, Eliot Cutler, Libby Mitchell, Les Otten, Bruce Poliquin, Steven Rowe, Rosa Scarcelli and Lynne Williams.
Information about the forum can be found at mainefishermensforum.org.