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Bristol Lions hear from local lobsterman 11/08/2011

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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Lion Andy Noyes (left) thanks Billy McLain for his presentation.

At their most recent meeting, the Bristol Area Lions heard a presentation by New Harbor lobsterman Billy McLain. Several generations of McLain’s family have been lobstermen, and he maintains that it has provided a good living for him and his immediate family over the last 30 years. The expense incurred by increasing regulation, however, makes McLain question whether or not his sons can continue that family legacy in the future.

He is fortunate to have a family dock in New Harbor which is where his 38 foot boat, the Sheila & Ivy, is kept. McLain fishes year-round and is a member of the New Harbor Lobster Co-op. Many local lobstermen belong to a co-op; those who do not tend to sell their catch directly to a restaurant. McLain explained that the coast of Maine is divided into specific lobstering areas. Our area comprises Zone E, which runs from Small Point to Pemaquid Point and is the smallest zone in the state. Those fishing in Zone E decided to allow a maximum of 600 “tags,” or licenses, per lobsterman. Each lobster trap carries one of those tags, which annually cost the lobsterman 50 cents apiece.

According to McLain, too much has been made about protecting whales from fishing gear because most lobstermen have never even seen a whale. He loses approximately 10 percent of his traps each year due to cut lines and storm action, adding, however, that the advent of GPS has helped lobstermen to locate and retrieve traps with detached buoys. It was noted that 50 years ago, New Harbor’s fishermen were primarily ground fishermen (seiners and draggers), with lobstermen constituting the minority. Since then, that ratio has reversed.

Fishing for shrimp still takes place out of New Harbor and does help to supplement McLain’s income, but it is now a limited season and the cost to rig a boat properly can run to $25,000.

The Bristol Area Lions Club meets next on Monday, Nov. 21, when the guest speaker will be Tomlin Coggeshall. The grandson of Frances Perkins, he will speak about her life and achievements working in the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first female Secretary of Labor. To make dinner reservations for that meeting, or to learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, please call 677-2095.


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