Lobstermen in Maine ready for debate over license wait list

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — There are few things in Maine as coveted as a lobster fishing license, and a proposal to bring dozens of people off the state’s license waiting list has fishermen in the state ready for a debate.

More than 200 people are waiting in the wings for a lobstering license, which has long been a ticket to the middle class for working coastal Mainers. But a proposal before a state legislative committee would bring new people into the fishery who have been waiting for 10 or more years.

That would instantly add more than 50 new fishermen to the industry during an era of high catches and strong prices, but also concern about warming oceans and new fishing restrictions designed to protect whales.

The proposal is up for a hearing on Tuesday before the Committee on Marine Resources. The bill’s presenter, Democratic Rep. Joyce McCreight of Harpswell, said the proposal is designed to help fishermen who have been the victim of a waiting list system that doesn’t often budge. But she acknowledged that there is opposition to the idea, and she’s expecting a lively hearing.

“The idea was if somebody’s been on the list that long, it would be nice to offer them an alternative,” McCreight said. “The response has been some very much in favor and some very much opposed.”

Read full article . . .