ELLSWORTH, Maine — State officials say that a new vendor has been selected to produce registration tags that commercial lobstermen are required to place on their traps and that, so far, the vendor has been meeting demand.
Cambridge Security Seals replaces Stoffel Seals, the Congers, N.Y.-based firm that was in the final year of a three-year contract with Maine last spring when it experienced an equipment breakdown, which created a backlog for fishermen trying to get their traps in the water.
The delay led the Department of Marine Resources to grant waivers on a case-by-case basis to fishermen who had been waiting four weeks or more for their 2012 tags. Fishermen granted waivers were allowed temporarily to continue using their 2011 trap tags.
According to DMR commissioner Patrick Keliher, Cambridge Security Seals of Pomona, N.Y., was the low bidder on the new contract, which the state sought proposals on last fall.
“So far, they have met our expectations across the board,” Keliher said Jan. 16.
He stressed that Cambridge Security was picked because of its low bid, not because of any issues the state had with the old manufacturer.
According to DMR spokesman Jeff Nichols, three other firms, including Stoffel, bid on the 2013 contract. DMR officials have said it is “unfortunate” that none of the companies that bid were from Maine.
The new manufacturer has agreed to charge the state six cents per tag, according to DMR officials. If the statewide total of trap tags sold in 2013 is close to the amount sold last year, which was 3.3 million, the one-year contract would cost the state approximately $200,000, Nichols indicated Thursday in an email.
Nichols wrote that the 2013 contract is for one year so DMR officials can assess how well Cambridge does.
“If things work out with them, we can renew their contract for another two years without going out to bid,” Nichols said.
Under the prior contract, Stoffel was paid eight cents per tag, he added.
Maine fishermen pay 50 cents per trap tag, unless they have to reorder more than 10 percent of their allotted amount due to “catastrophic loss,” in which case they pay 10 cents per tag, according to Nichols. The most number of traps that a fisherman in Maine is licensed to use is 800, though some fishermen are limited to fewer traps.
Keliher said that the springtime is when most of Maine’s 5,000 or so licensed commercial fishermen prepare their gear for the busy summer season and when they place their orders for their trap tags.
“That will be the time [for the new manufacturer] to perform,” he said.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.