DEEP: Notice to Lobster Fishermen & Dealers Lobster V-Notch Program

Connecticut Lobster Restoration Advisory Committee

Notice to Lobster Fishermen & Dealers
Lobster V-Notch Program

June 30, 2006

The Connecticut General Assembly enacted Public Act 06-187 in May. This legislation establishes a lobster stock restoration program based on the v-notching and release of mature female lobsters. The program is funded in the amount of $1.0 million and use of the funds is contingent on approval on or before November 1, 2006 by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) of a plan to be developed by a Lobster Restoration Advisory Committee (LRAC) established by the act. The membership of this committee is listed on the reverse side of this notice.

The LRAC was established in May and has met several times since early June. The purpose of this notice is to describe the intent of the legislature in enacting P. A. 06-187 and the intent of the committee in developing the v-notch program.

The intent of the legislature was to provide economic assistance to lobstermen who continue to be devastated by the effects of the lobster die-off in the late 1990's while also measurably assisting in the restoration of the lobster stock. The intent of the lobstermen who worked on this legislation was to base this restoration program on a strategy of lobstermen volunteering to mark (v-notch) mature female lobsters, then releasing them into the Sound and receiving compensation for the marketable lobsters released. Once notched, they are protected from capture under the laws of all states until the notch grows out through successive molting. During that period, they are protected from capture and any eggs they produce will hopefully contribute to improved spawning potential and eventual stock restoration. The intent of all parties involved is to employ v-notching as the principal lobster rebuilding strategy for Long Island Sound, instead of additional increases in minimum length, adoption of a maximum length, implementation of quota management (trip limits and closures), or other potential management strategies.

The approach that the committee has employed to date, consistent with the legislative language and intent, is to join the lobster industry, the state VoAg and technical high schools with substantive marine "on-water" curriculums, and the Department of Environmental Protection in a program that will put two-person teams of qualified high school students on the vessels of cooperating lobstermen to notch lobsters and record data. Based on these records, the Department will compensate lobstermen for the fair market value of the marketable lobsters v-notched and released on that particular trip.

This is the plan, as it has been developed to date. There are many significant details to be worked out but in the interest of keeping the lobstering community informed the committee has sent this notice as a "progress report." If this plan comes to fruition, a call for volunteers will be sent to all Connecticut lobstermen who are active enough to justify placing a team of v-notchers on board their vessels.

If you have questions regarding this effort, feel free to contact Dave Simpson, Mark Alexander or Colleen Giannini at the DEP Marine Fisheries Division (860.434.6043, email dep.marine.fisheries@po.state.ct.us).

Members of the Connecticut Lobster Restoration Advisory Committee

The Commissioner of DEP, or her designee - Captain Kyle Overturf

The Commissioner of Agriculture, or his designee - David Carey

Connecticut's Administrative Commissioner to the ASMFC - Eric Smith

Connecticut's Legislative Commissioner to the ASMFC - Senator George L. "Doc" Gunther

Connecticut's Commissioner to the ASMFC appointed by the Governor - Dr. Lance L. Stewart

A representative of the Southern NE Fishermen's & Lobstermen's Association - Mike Grimshaw

A representative of the Connecticut Commercial Lobstermen's Association - Bart Mansi

A representative of the Long Island Western End Lobstermen's Association - Roger Frate, Sr.

A representative of the Sound School in New Haven - John Roy

A representative of the state vocational aquaculture school in Bridgeport - John Curtis

A representative of the Connecticut Seafood Council - Barbara Gordon

A representative of the state vocational high school in Groton - Alexander Pesarik*

* The legislation did not identify a school in eastern Connecticut. Committee members believed that it was essential that eastern Connecticut be represented in the study design and implementation. Eastern Connecticut lobstermen engaged representatives of the Ella Grasso Regional Technical High School in discussions and elicited interest in participation. Ella Grasso Regional Technical High School has an established environmental biology program that routinely places students in work environments on the water. For that reason, participation was solicited and a favorable response was received.  (N06-13)