SWAN’S ISLAND, Maine — A local fisherman who just earlier this month was charged with committing multiple scallop fishing violations was found guilty in court last week of committing prior scallop violations more than a year ago.
Justice Robert Murray decided March 25 that Lucas Lemoine had committed the civil violations of fishing in a closed area and fishing without a valid license in January 2014, according to court documents. A trial on the civil charges had been held in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court on the day before Murray issued his decision.
With the civil ruling against him, Lemoine, 33, could lose both his scallop and lobster fishing licenses for several years, according to his attorney, Jeff Toothaker of Ellsworth.
Three weeks ago, on March 9, Lemoine was charged with several more scallop fishing violations after Marine Patrol officers saw him allegedly dragging for scallops at night in an area where an underwater power cable runs between Swan’s Island and Mount Desert Island.
According to Murray’s decision, Swan’s Island Police Chief Paul Gamble twice observed Lemoine fishing in an area that was closed to scallop fishing, once on Jan. 17, 2014, and again four days later. Gamble, who was standing on the shore of Swan’s Island on each day that he saw Lemoine’s boat “Foxy Lady” in the closed area, took photos on Jan. 17 that, according to the judge, show the boat’s tow cable “extending from the stern of the vessel in a taut manner.”
Lemoine also was charged with fishing without a valid license on Jan. 21, 2014, but not with fishing without a valid license on Jan. 17, 2014. Toothaker said Saturday that he could not explain why this was the case. He said Lemoine had twice sent in payments to renew his license but that those payments were never processed by Maine Department of Marine Resources and that Lemoine did not receive his license from the Department of Marine Resources until Feb. 28 of that year.
Murray wrote in his decision that, in keeping with the standard practice for adjudicating civil violations, a preponderance of the evidence indicates that Lemoine had committed the alleged offenses.
“Commissioner [Patrick] Keliher is extremely concerned with Lucas Lemoine,” Jeff Nichols, spokesman for the Department of Marine Resources, said Monday evening. “These are just three more examples of a longstanding pattern of disregard for Maine’s marine resources laws, and the commissioner will be considering these most recent offenses along with his others in determining what additional actions to take.”
Nichols said Lemoine had his license suspended from June 18, 2012, to March 12, 2013, for dragging in a closed area in Gouldsboro Bay.
According to Toothaker, Gamble was more than a mile away from “Foxy Lady” when he supposedly saw Lemoine fishing in the closed fishing area northwest of Swan’s Island — a distance that easily could make Gamble misjudge the boat’s location on a map, he added.
As for the cable being behind the boat in the water, the defense attorney said, fishermen often unroll their tow cables and then re-spool them more neatly back on board when they are done fishing. Lemoine had been fishing outside the closed area and was in the closed area re-spooling the cable with his drag stowed away on the boat when Gamble took the photos, he said.
“Nobody saw the drag in the water,” Toothaker said. “I thought [Lemoine] had a reasonable explanation for what he was accused of doing wrong.”