SWAN’S ISLAND, Maine — A local scallop fisherman is facing multiple charges after he allegedly dragged for scallops at night in the area of an underwater power cable, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
Lucas Lemoine, 33, also is accused of operating his vessel without navigation lights and with possession of undersized scallops, Maine Department of Marine Resources indicated in a prepared statement released Wednesday evening.
According to the statement, in the pre-dawn hours Monday, officers with Maine Marine Patrol were patrolling in Blue Hill Bay in the vicinity of an underwater power cable that provides electricity to the island’s 330 or so residents. The cable connects Lopaus Point on Mount Desert Island to Swan’s Island.
At approximately 4 a.m., the officers witnessed Lemoine leave Bass Harbor in fishing vessel Foxy Lady and, without navigation lights, begin to drag for scallops across the power cable, state officials wrote in the release. Because of conservation measures implemented by the state, fishing for scallops has not been allowed in Blue Hill Bay west and north of Lopaus Point during this winter’s scallop season, which started Dec. 1, 2014.
About half an hour later, Marine Patrol officers approached the boat and, upon boarding it, found undersized scallops, the statement indicated.
Lemoine has been charged with dragging for scallops in an area with an underwater cable, dragging for scallops in a closed area, dragging for scallops at night, possession of undersized scallops, and operating without navigation lights. Dragging in a cable area is a Class D crime and carries a minimum penalty of $500 and up to a year in jail. In addition, Lemoine also faces a possible loss of his license and additional potential fines of more than $2,000.
According to Bangor Daily News archives, Lemoine has a history of committing fishing violations, including convictions in 2010 for fishing with untagged lobster traps and raising or hauling traps during closed period, for violating scallop fishing rules in 2012 and possession of shellfish from a closed area in 1999.
“This investigation by Marine Patrol was the result of hard work by these officers acting on tips we received from industry,” Marine Patrol Sgt. Troy Dow, who oversees the officers involved, said. “This fishery is on the rebound because closures like the one in place in this area have allowed scallops to regenerate. The majority of harvesters want to see this successful effort continue so they are willing to work with us to bring violators to justice.”
Dow added that damaging the cable by dragging over it could have meant serious hardship for the Swan’s Island community.
“This is the primary source of electricity for this island community,” Dow said. “It is a lifeline for those folks.”
According to DMR, recently released data compiled by the state show that Maine’s scallop fishery saw another year of increased landings and value in 2014 as it continues to rebuild from an all-time low of 33,000 pounds landed in 2005. Maine’s 438 active licensed draggers and divers brought ashore 584,173 pounds of scallop meat last year, not including the shell or other parts, which was an increase of an 78,335 pounds from the prior year. At $7,464,690, the value of the fishery increased by more than $1.8 million from 2013 to 2014.