State Reverses Course, Leaves Menhaden Fishery Open

Keenly aware of a looming bait shortage, Friendship lobsterman Chad Benner decided last fall to invest $15,000 to buy the custom-made net needed to join Maine’s growing menhaden fishery in 2020.

He planned to use some of the menhaden, also called pogy, to bait his lobster traps and sell the remainder to lobster fishermen on the hunt for an affordable alternative to Atlantic herring, which is hard to come by since its depleted numbers triggered steep cuts in how much herring can be caught.

But Benner’s plan was put in jeopardy last month when Maine announced that it wanted to place a two-year freeze on the menhaden fishery, closing it to newcomers while the state enacted a licensing system and made a pitch for a bigger share of the East Coast menhaden quota.

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