To the editor:

I am thankful for the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation Rope Buyback Program (WWF July 07). I did participate in this program and I do feel this program is a must. Also, I agree with Laura Ludwig’s statement, “the dollar forty we’re giving them is just to take the edge off.” Sink rope is more costly per pound and is obviously heavier, needing more pounds per coil to cover the same area. In principle, the Rope Buyback Program helps; in actuality it falls short of its financial mark.

I am deeply concerned about the statement, “estimates say it will cost the average lobsterman $3,500 to make the transition” from float rope to sink rope. These estimates do not accurately compute for any lobster fisherman that fishes trawls in federal waters.

My trawls are made up of half-inch ground line and seven-sixteenth gangues. To build all new ground lines would take an estimated 10,000 pounds of rope, a cost of approximately $20,000. This transition would take weeks of constant work. Also, there is the changing over to pairs or triples that have their own set of gear. The initial cost of rope alone for this gear would be $10,000 to $12,000.

The other consideration not mentioned is the cost of “loss of gear” for inferior rope quality. I have tried hundreds of dollars’ worth of “whale safe” rope and many different kinds of sink rope. All had less than positive results, mostly losing gear to chafing or loss of tensile strength. This rope just does not withstand the rigors of what is intended.

Bob Bowman said, “a move to sinking rope for lobstermen who can successfully fish with it can’t help but improve endangered whales’ chances for survival.” The key words here being “who can successfully fish with it?” He also, said, “it’s just a matter pf physics.” I question that statement. I’ve taken many observers on my boat over the years. Laura Ludwig is one of them. All of them have seen the half-inch float rope I use coming up from even depths of 100 fathoms covered with mud, clay and an occasional starfish still attached to it. (Starfish must be good swimmers!) Is it just a matter of physics or politics?

Vicki Cornish may think that the elimination of float rope can’t come soon enough. To her or anyone else feeling this way, I extend the invitation to my trap shop to work on replacing all of my trawls, pairs and triples with neutral buoyant or sink rope. After the nonpaying weeks go by, pay me the difference the Rope Buyback Program does not cover. It will be approximately $18,000. Then to help cover the yearly expenses incurred, just send a blank check for “mandated maintenance.”

As stated in the Environmental Impact Statement, I honestly believe this type of action is unlawful and is an unfair financial burden to put on an individual.

Stanley C. Sargent