The first weekend in March will find Rockland’s Samoset Resort abuzz with fishermen from all along the coast coming together for the 37th Maine Fishermen’s Forum. Forum organizers expect this year’s event to be a busy one with people coming to discuss the latest developments in the lobster, shrimp and groundfish industries, offshore wind, and ocean zoning, among a slew of other topics.

Members from Maine’s Congressional delegation usually make an appearance, and this year, Governor LePage may be attending to introduce the new Commissioner of Marine Resources, Pat Keliher. Mark this one down on your session sheets—last year’s meeting with the commissioner generated a lot of discussion!


As always, lobster will be a primary topic of discussion. Of interest are three separate sessions, all related to important and timely issues for Maine lobstermen.

Product Quality and Handling Workshop: An opportunity to hear about the current state of these discussions and to also receive information and materials similar to the ones used in the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program.

Maine’s Lobster Limited Entry Program—An Independent Analysis: The DMR is currently in the process of moving forward with a review of the licensing and entry system in an effort to identify ways to improve the process while preserving the effort reduction that the industry has already undertaken. “Maine’s Lobster Limited Entry Program—An Independent Analysis” will provide an opportunity to learn more. The new commissioner will be in attendance.

Bait: With herring being tough to come by this fall, and a lot of hard baits from exotic places being imported, this is sure to be a lively discussion.

Another tough topic that will be addressed is the siting of offshore wind energy. Statoil, a Norwegian energy company, has submitted a request to lease an area off of Boothbay in order to develop a small, deep-water, offshore wind farm. During the session “Is Offshore Wind Energy Coming to Maine?,” experts will be answering questions about offshore wind, such as impacts to fish, how the projects are financed, how they work, and the interaction between offshore wind and fishermen, and Marine Spatial Planning. BOEM, the federal agency managing the leasing process, will be there to talk about how and when Maine fishermen will be able to provide input.


Other sessions of particular interest include:

Reducing Operational Costs and Bycatch in New England Fisheries: An Update on Fuel Efficiency and Gear Selectivity Projects: There is session about fuel use in fisheries that will provide an update on various projects in the region related to reducing fuel costs—from using hydrogen in your engine to dragging more efficient nets (see Saving Fuel Doesn’t Have to be a Drag” on page 11 for more info about some of these efforts).

Amendment 18: For those who are interested in groundfish issues, the discussion about Amendment 18, the “fleet diversity” amendment should be worthwhile. The state permit bank also has a session that will provide a forum for fishermen to express their thoughts on how the permit bank has been operated and how it should be changed going forward.

Shellfish 101: This session will provide an opportunity to learn a little bit more about shellfish aquaculture, as well as basic information about when,  where and how small-scale shellfish aquaculture could help you diversify your business and put a little more money in your pocket.

Northern Shrimp Management Next Steps: Shrimp fishermen have had a tough winter and face significant challenges in the next few years. The halving of the shrimp quota means a short season and an uncertain future for Maine’s shrimpers and shrimp processors.


If you haven’t heard about the new Coast Guard rules for vessel safety, there are changes coming in the next few years—a shift in the boundary line between federal and state waters for Coast Guard requirements, mandatory dockside examination and compliance certificates and some expensive new life raft requirements for boats that fish or even transit areas beyond the three-mile line.

For those who are thinking about coming Thursday night, make sure you check out the band, Blue Northern, at the reception. If you stay Friday night, bring your wallets and checkbooks. Last year, the Friday night auction raised $21,000 in scholarships for students who come from fishing families.

For more information about the forum and to register, please see the website or contact the Forum Coordinator, Chilloa Young. Please feel free to call her at (207) 442-7700 or send an email to her at

For a complete schedule of forum sessions, please visit

Nick Battista is the Island Institute’s Marine Programs Director.