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Welcome to betterlobsterlaw.com. This site has been developed to provide visitors with information on the impacts of the State of Maine's netted bycatch lobster landings law. Maine is the only state which does not allow bycatch lobster landings.
Maine’s bycatch lobster law is a law of unintended consequences. It is forcing Maine’s traditional groundfishing fleet, with its valuable catch, to offload in Massachusetts. These vessels harvest groundfish, but lobsters come up in the net as well.
Federal conservation law limits these boats to keeping 100 lobsters a day, up to 500 per trip. By comparison, Maine lobstermen catch 50-70 million pounds of lobsters yearly. But these few bycatch lobsters add thousands of dollars in revenue to a vessel's trip - and tens of thousands of dollars in revenue annually.
Maine fishermen can no longer forego the value of bycatch lobster. Each trip, Maine's offshore vessels are forced to choose between discarding several thousand dollars of lobsters so that they can return home, or retaining the lobsters and landing entire trips - groundfish and bycatch lobster alike - in another state. Increasingly, they are choosing to land elsewhere.
Maine fisheries are at a crossroad. The State can no longer ignore the importance of bycatch lobster to the mixed-species groundfish fishery. It can allow bycatch lobster to be landed in Maine, or develop some way of compensating Maine fishermen for the thousands of dollars in revenue the State forces them to discard. If the State does not act, the majority of Maine's groundfish will be landed in Massachusetts.