Commission Drops 5-Year Lobster Ban Proposal: Courtney

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The proposed five-year ban on lobster fishing in New England is on hold, according to Congressman Joe Courtney.

His office sent a news release on Thursday afternoon praising the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for deciding to put aside the potential ban and conduct another independent study on the extent of the lobster crisis in southern New England.

The proposal was to institute a five-year ban on commercial and recreational lobstering south of Cape Cod.

“This is an initial victory for the lobstermen of Connecticut,” Courtney said in a news release. “Jobs and a New England way of life are on the line, and I am pleased that ASMFC has for the moment rejected a ban and instead ordered a new study on lobsters.”

Courtney said he has heard that the ASMFC’s numbers do not match what lobstermen are seeing on the water.

“With an entire industry and families in potential peril, a ban would have been unacceptable,” Courtney said.

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the next step is for a technical analysis to determine what the effects would be on the lobster industry if nothing is done, if there is a 50 percent reduction in fishing and a 75 percent reduction. 

In August, there will be a meeting regarding a peer review, where the board will come up with a plan for getting feedback from scientists and other experts. 

There will be another meeting in November, where the technical report could be presented.

“While today’s announcement is a welcome reprieve for lobstermen and their families, it does not mean the fight is over,” Courtney continued. “A ban on lobstering – a ban of any length – is unacceptable. I will not be satisfied that we have won this battle until the idea of a moratorium is taken off the table entirely.”

Dozens of lobstermen traveled to Warwick, R.I., for a meeting of the board that advises the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission on lobster rules.

The announcement was made during the meeting, Courtney’s office said.

Nick Crismale, of the Connecticut Lobsterman's Association, said a moratorium was "almost Biblical" in terms of the damage it would do the industry.

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