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Fishermen’s Forum kicks off March 1

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKPORT, Maine — The largest annual gathering of fishermen and other industry officials in Maine is scheduled to start Thursday, March 1, at the Samoset Resort.

“We have it all going on. It’s a pretty substantial forum,” said Chilloa Young, coordinator of the 37th Annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum.

She said one of the highlights of the three-day event will be a session 1-2:30 p.m. Friday, March 2, titled “Changes in NOAA Fisheries Leadership.” Jane Lubchenco, who is both under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, will be in attendance at this session although she will not be on the panel, Young said.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage will be at the Forum Friday morning to introduce the new state commissioner of Marine Resources, Pat Keliher. Keliher was sworn in last month as commissioner. His session is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.-noon.

Industry members also can meet the state lawmakers who serve on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources. That meet-and-greet session is scheduled for 2:45 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday.

Young said she estimates 2,000-3,000 people will be in attendance for the three-day event that has been held each year since 1976 at the Samoset.

In a letter to members, Forum President Kristan Porter stated, “The forum is and always has been a traditional gathering spot in Maine for fishermen, processors, dealers, aquaculturists, scientists and fisheries officials from both state and federal governments, and their families as well. We have been working hard to organize seminars that will give you up to date information for the upcoming fishing season.”

The value of the commercial seafood landings in Maine in 2010 was $451 million, with 70 percent of that coming from lobster landings. Atlantic salmon was second in terms of value, followed by soft-shelled clams and Atlantic herring, according to the marine resources department.

Nearly 100 vendors and exhibitors also are on hand for the Trade Show, which will be open to the public 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 1, a three-hour session hosted by Elliott Thomas of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association will address whale entanglements.

The only other session Thursday is from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and explores opportunities for the sea urchin fishery.

Sessions are scheduled from 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The forum also provides a late winter getaway for fishermen and their families, with events for children planned throughout the three days.

A full schedule is on the forum’s website at www.mainefishermensforum.org

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