At the Thursday, September 26, Zone C council meeting in Deer Isle, the council voted to keep the zone open after a brief discussion.
The vote was 6-3, with board chairman Hilton Turner of Stonington and members David Tarr and Michael Sherman, both of Brooklin, voting against the measure to keep the zone open. Zone C council members that voted to keep the zone open were Christopher Bates of Brooksville, Justin Boyce of Stonington, Robbie Gray of Deer Isle, Ryan Marves of North Haven, Justin Dyer of Vinalhaven and Wyatt Beal of Seal Cove.
Zone C is the only zone that is currently open, which means that any lobsterman who successfully completes the apprenticeship program can obtain a license. In other zones, those who finish the apprentice program have their names put on a waiting list, and then a certain number of trap tags or a certain number of licenses must be retired in order to allow new entrants to the zone.
From 2009 through 2012, 87 licenses and more than 36,000 trap tags were not renewed in Zone C. During that time, 97 new lobstermen entered the zone, a net gain of 10 fishermen.
High school student and fisherman Devon Olsen spoke against closing the zone, saying that it hurts students and young fishermen.
Discussion also included putting a name forward for consideration for the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative board. Four of the 12 seats are reserved for harvesters or those representing harvester interests. John Williams of Stonington recommended putting forth the name of someone who believed in the marketing program.
The board voted unanimously to put forth Frank Gotwals for nomination. The seven zones are putting forth names, and Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher will choose from among the names.
The board also held elections for board chairman, vice chairman, secretary and Lobster Advisory Council representative. David Tarr of Brooklin was voted LAC rep, with the other officers staying the same—Turner as chairman, Michael Sherman of Brooklin as vice-chairman and Justin Boyce as secretary.
Other business included a run down of legislation on the docket or passed over the past year, including the marketing bill and potential whale rope rules changes.