Penboscot Bay Press Compass Logo

Penobscot Bay Press
Community Information Services

News Feature

Our Community
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 28, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, June 28, 2018
DMR sets scallop lottery rules
New licenses based on low exit-entry ratio

by Anne Berleant

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has established lotteries to grant scallop licenses, one for drag licenses and one for dive licenses. The ruling, announced June 22, follows legislation passed one year ago intended to open up the Maine scallop fishery.

A 2009 moratorium on new scallop fishing licenses, based on low landings and low participation, had left younger fishermen and those who had let their license lapse on dry land.

The DMR worked with the Scallop Advisory Council to establish the lottery rules and held public hearings in Augusta, Ellsworth and Machias that further refined the system.

The exit-entry ratio for new licenses is 2:1 for drag licenses, with one license awarded to an individual between 18 and 30 years old and one to someone 31 or older. The dive license exit ratio is 1:1. The exit-entry ratio will be reviewed every two years, with consultation of the Scallop Advisory Council.

To be eligible for the lottery, an applicant must be:
a Maine resident 18 years or older;
a current or past holder of any commercial license, or a current or past crew member on board an active commercial scallop vessel;
not convicted or adjudicated of a marine resources offense that resulted in a license suspension within the last seven years;
not a current license holder.

Each applicant will be allotted one draw, with additional draws for every consecutive year they enter each lottery. An ordered list of alternates will also be drawn, equal to the number of lottery winners.

At the Ellsworth public hearing held October 11, 2017, nearly 50 people attended, with nine giving testimony against the measure, highlighting the low entry-exit ratio, lack of an apprentice program and the short scallop fishing season.

A measure of support came from Brooklin fisherman and Zone C Lobster Council member David Tarr, who noted that making someone who has worked on a scallop boat eligible for the lottery “is kind of like an apprentice program,” and that a formal apprentice program could lead to waiting lists, given the exit-entry ratio.

Tarr further stated, “We need to be talking about this because if we wait, the fishery dies. It’s a club right now and there needs to be a way for people to get in.”