Vol. 11, No. 12 – December 2006    News & Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine          SUBSCRIBE NOW!!
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Mandatory Landings Reports – The Final Debate

by Jon Keller

In the wake of a storm-ridden November, which put a damper on the 2006 lobster season in Maine, comes what many fishermen consider another front: more data and more management from the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

Beginning in December of 1997, the American lobster has been managed by Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Since then, the agencies have been hard at work gathering information on which to base their management decisions. But in 2004, the Lobster Model Review Panel and the 2006 Stock Assessment Peer Review Panel decided that the data they had was “woefully inadequate” and was therefore the “primary limitation on the ability to manage the fishery.”

The fact that the ASMFC and its scientists are beckoning for more data does not surprise fishermen. The various drafts and amendments and addendums have become a perpetual and confusing process along the coast. Some fishermen see the process, coupled with all the meetings, as widening the split between many lobsterman and the scientists.

Some fishermen object to the invasion of what has been the privacy of their fishing domain. Some see big bureaucracy working its way into the most remote coves and changing life there. Most lobster fishing on the Atlantic coast is done in Maine and therefore more will be effected here. Mandatory reporting is seen by some as not having saved the collapsing lobster fisheries to the south. Photo: Fishermen's Voice

Rapture Of The Deep
by Mike Crowe

Images of divers with tanks, mask and flippers are so common in the media that diving can look as easy as a walk in the woods. And while the equipment gives it the appearance of something high tech and new, in fact it is and it isn’t. Helmet diving, using a spherical metal helmet, cumbersome suit and air lines from the surface were made famous in 1940s movies. At the time this too seemed new, but in fact helmet diving was done as early as the 1830s. More experimental helmet gear went back another 100 years. Brief unaided “skin” dives to 15 or 20 feet are comparative walks in the woods, but below that depth the environment becomes increasingly hostile.

Sponge diving may be the most known and although it has been done more recently using helmet diving gear, free diving goes back at least as far as ancient Greece. At the time naked sponge divers, holding a flat rock used as ballast and to plane in their decent, went down about 25 to 50 feet. Putting oil in their ears and holding some in their mouths was about all that was used to deal with the pressure at lower depths. They spent a few minutes on the bottom in several dives a day. Many of these divers had a social status in their villages. It’s strength was in part based on how long they could remain submerged.


Armored diving suit, photo undated, but probably from the 19th century. The first armored diving suit appeared in 1838, invented by Englishman W.H. Taylor. Never widely used, its most serious drawbacks were the weight and bulk that made it nearly immobile underwater. It used air at surface pressure so there was no decompression. Photo from A Maritime Album: 100 Photographs and Their Stories, page 133. © 1997 Mariner’s Museum. Used by permission, Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, VA.

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