The Atlantic States Fisheries Management Council is asking for public comment on draft rules that would change the way lobstermen report their harvest.
The group’s lobster coordinator, Megan Ware, says data deficiencies have emerged during recent efforts to protect sensitive marine resources. She says right now, harvest data are collected over swaths of ocean so large that it’s hard to measure fishing activities around certain features, such as deep-water coral canyons off Mt. Desert Rock or, farther south, offshore wind turbines.
“Data granularity is what we’re really hoping to achieve. There are changes happening in the fishery, so we are seeing more lobster being harvested from further offshore. I don’t think at this point we can conclude if lobsters are migrating offshore or if there are just more fishermen out there right now,” she says.
The new attempt to get more granular reports could include a pilot project for GPS tracking of individual vessels — but final action won’t be taken until February.