ELLSWORTH, Maine — Maine’s Department of Marine Resources has scheduled eight meetings over the next several weeks at which it hopes to gather comments from fishermen about a possible rotational closure plan.
The plan would implement a series of closures that would rotate among multiple areas established along the coast. DMR officials have said the goal of closures is to help rebuild near-shore scallop stocks in Maine’s coastal waters.
In 2009, low scallop landings prompted DMR to enact 12 closure areas along the coast, each of which is expected to expire this year. The potential rotational closure system would replace the static closures that are being phased out.
The meetings have been scheduled for:
• 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, May 21, Milbridge town office.
• 3-6 p.m. Monday, May 21, Whiting Town Hall.
• 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, Casco Bay Lines ferry office, Portland.
• 3-6 p.m. Thursday, May 24, Maine State Ferry Terminal, Rockland.
• 5-8 p.m. Thursday, May 31, Ellsworth City Hall.
• 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, Washington Academy, East Machias.
• 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, Jonesport High School.
• 6-9 p.m. Monday, June 11, Penobscot East Resource Center, Stonington.
The proposed closure system and comments about it recorded at the meetings will be considered by DMR’s Scallop Advisory Council when it meets from 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at Ellsworth City Hall, according to DMR officials.
In 2009, only 85,000 pounds of scallop meat were harvested by licensed divers and draggers in Maine. That overall catch, for which the statewide fleet earned less than $600,000, was the third-lowest annual yield in Maine since 1950, according to DMR statistics. Only 2004 and 2005 had lower statewide scallop landings totals.
The historical peak of the fishery in Maine was in 1981, when fishermen harvested 3.8 million pounds of scallop meat and earned a total of $15.2 million for their catch.
Since 2005, the average annual price per pound that Maine fishermen have been paid for scallops has hovered around $7 or $8, until 2011, when it was around $10. Fishermen caught 173,000 pounds of scallops in Maine in 2011 and that year were paid a total of $1.73 million for their efforts.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter @billtrotter.