REPORT: Lobstermen Quit As New Regulations Go Into Effect

(Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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Lobstermen in Maine are reportedly quitting as frustration with new regulations enacted by the state at the beginning of the year grows.

The regulation by the Atlantic States Commission took effect on Jan. 1, requiring lobstermen to inform the agency when, where and how they catch lobsters through monthly reports, WGME reported. Rather than endure the agency’s oversight of the sport, many fishers are reportedly giving up trapping lobsters instead.

Bill Coopersmith, a long-time lobsterman, told WGME that he hung up his net the day the new regulation was enacted.

“Forty-three years of doing it, I took the last of my gear out of the water on New Year’s Day. And I said, ‘That’s probably it,'” Coppersmith said. “It’s come to be too restrictive to go. It creates more work. And I can’t create any more revenue because of the restrictions they’re putting on here.”

Lobstermen in Maine are required to fish with a tracking device attached to their boats, WGME reported. Five lobstermen reportedly sued the Department of Maine Resources over the location-tracking requirements, arguing that the rule violates their constitutional right to privacy, equal protection and due process, according to NHPR.

“They’re an important part of their lives, and they use these vessels for purposes other than commercial lobstering, including other commercial ventures, personal use, family use and recreational use,” attorney Thimi Mina said of the plaintiffs’ boats used for lobstering.

The lobster industry in Maine contributes more than $1 billion to the state’s economy, according to Maine Lobster. Despite this, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is set to enact more regulations next year, including a rule that would require lobstermen to throw one-pound catches back into the water, WGME reported. (RELATED: Huge Tuna Sells For Almost $800,000 At Annual Auction)

“They think there may be a population problem with lobsters. That’s not true at all,” Coppersmith said. “You got to realize, okay, we caught less lobsters last year. Less poundage. More work to go catch them. Increase in the price of bait. It costs so much to go.”

This is not the first time the lobster industry has become entangled in legal battles. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in June 2023 that it “was egregiously wrong” for Maine to impose costly regulations on lobstermen in the state’s interpretation of the Endangered Species Act.