AUGUSTA – The Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee voted on Tuesday to advance a bill by Rep. Holly Stover, D-Boothbay, aimed at supporting Maine’s lobster fishing industry following recent federal regulatory changes.
LD 1898, An Act To Address the Economic Impact of Federal Closures on Maine’s Fixed Gear Fishing Industry, would establish a fund to provide financial assistance to lobster fishermen who have been impacted by the closure of nearly 1,000 square miles of federal waters off the coast of Maine.
“The federal closures our lobster fishing industry are facing are immediate, which means they need immediate financial assistance to adapt quickly enough to sustain their livelihood and our economy,” said Stover. “I am grateful for the committee’s collaborative effort to make this bill the best it can be for our fishing industry.”
Funds would be administered by the Maine Department of Marine Resources and would only be available to Maine residents. To be eligible, fixed gear fishermen would need to have held at least 400 trap tags in two of the last three years and have a class one, two or three license. A three tier system would be used to determine the amount of funds received by those eligible.
“As a representative of several coastal communities, I was glad to vote for this measure,” said Hepler, a member of the Marine Resources Committee. “These funds will have a direct impact on those who rely on the Gulf of Maine to provide a reliable and sustainable living.”
The bill received bipartisan votes, as well as support from Commissioner Patrick Keliher of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
Stover is serving her second term in the Maine House and was recently named the House chair of the Government Oversight Committee. She also sits on the Health and Human Service Committee and represents Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Edgecomb, South Bristol (part), Southport and Westport Island.
Hepler is serving her second term in the Maine House and sits on both the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and Marine Resources Committee. She represents the towns of Arrowsic, Dresden, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Woolwich and part of Richmond.