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January 4th, 2008, 03:50 PM
From today's Union Leader - Merrimack Edition - Friday, Jan 4 2008 - Page B1

There is a shot of me I supplied them holding up a lobster. Contrary
to the caption in the article, the lobster was not caught by me
(misquoted) The lobster was caught by my dive buddy who has a lobster
license, off s. Cape Cod.

Any comments, send to jimkozubek@hotmail.com


*Seeks Legislation:
Critics say such recreational activity would cause harm.
By Jim Kozubek, Union Leader Correspondent

Merrimack - Luis Figueroa is lobbying for a bill that would enable
recreational divers to catch lobsters off the coast of New Hampshire.
"Why should a natural re-source be rested to so few?" asked Figueroa,
a town resident and diver since 1979. "People can harvest scallops,
and they can catch striped bass, and so why not lobsters?"

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department last issued 362 commercial
licenses and 216 recreational licenses. Recreational licenses allow
lobster trappers in boats to set five personal traps

Commercial licenses cost between $103 and $300 a year; recreational
licenses cost #45 a year.

Figueroa, 44, said state Rep. Maureen Mooney supports his proposal.
Barb Sylvestre, a dive instructor and owner of Aquatics Specialties in
town, said she also supports letting divers catch lobsters.

Among her "regular customers, that has always been a big request, "
Sylvestre said. "I don't see how it could hurt anything and it is our

Figueroa is lobbying to get a bill submitted this spring. United
Divers of New Hampshire, of which Figueroa is a member, said similar
House bills were shot down in 2003, 2004, and 2006.

The New Hampshire Commercial Fisherman's Association strongly opposes
any such such bill. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is
another opponent, said John Nelson, chief of marine fisheries for the

Nelson said: "It's a bad idea for a number of reasons. Divers will be
turning over every rock they can find and killing the organisms on the
bottom of rocks that are light sensitive, and ripping the claws off
lobsters that they try to catch, and we don't need that kind of
pressure on our stock."

Figueroa said that it takes skill to catch a lobster and divers are
careful not to disrupt the environment.

"We don't lift up rocks, for the first thing, because those little
guys can swim 25 miles an hour," he said. "What we do is spot them in
a rock crevice and tickle their tails until the lobster comes, and
(then we) grab it."

Fish and Game Lt. Bruce Bonefant said the department has been
effective at catching and prosecuting recreational divers who take
lobsters. Fines range from $90 to $120, spending on a lobster's size
and whether it is an egg-bearing female.

Maine has bigger fines; Massachusetts allows divers to catch lobsters.

Bonefant said it would be difficult to get a bill passed without
support of commercial fisherman.

Figueroa said there have been instances when the lines of some of the
recreational traps have been cut by "very territorial" commercial
fisherman. Those competitive instincts should not be applied to
recreational divers, he said, because divers would probably take no
more than 1 percent of the catch from New Hampshire waters.

January 6th, 2008, 11:43 AM
Need help..

The Union Leader NH article was a great article, because the opposition is opening itself up and giving specific agruments which can be researched and confronted with facts... In Mass, the recreational diving community was successful because they researched the facts. We need to take the same approach in NH.

Would welcome help of NH NELD's to gather some of facts. Some questions we should be prepared to answer..

How many divers were actually arrested/prosecuted in the past 5, 10, 15 years?

How many lobster size/take violations were made by lobstermen in the past 5/10/15 years?

How many ghost traps are lost in NH waters annually? Perhaps an offer to help recover them might be put forth... good faith and will being demonstrated.

How many lobsters were taken legally by lobstermen annually in NH?

How many / what percentage of lobsters trapped are undersized lobsters and are thrown back by lobstermen, (which is a good strategy, superficially)? Reality, they are "sitting ducks" for stripers and other fish as they sink to the bottom in open water, unprotected.

How many lobsters were actually taken by NH recreational lobster permits annually?

How many diving lobster licenses are likely to be issued? How many certified divers actually want to do that? Actually, one very reasonable compromise mentioned in the past was a "diver license lottery" annually, not unlike the moose hunting lottery. That would limit the licenses, regulate the season, and limit the maximum number caught per day/week/season. That maximum number could be compared with the number caught commercially (probably far
less than 1%), and by limiting the season length, make enforcement less problematic. Just a thought... Florida does this and it's verysuccessful.

John Nelson, chief of marine fisheries for the department argues recreational divers do a lot of damage by lifting up rocks to pull lobsters. What about the damage done by commercial Lobsterman as they drag and haul their traps up from the bottom?

January 6th, 2008, 05:23 PM
It also would be interesting for the lob. fishermen to address lost traps and the problems they impose. Yes maybe a few divers would be aggressive in their gathering methods but the dive comm is pretty good in policing their own. How many of us have found large balls of tangled and mangled traps littering the bottom. When i dive and find lose traps i will try to find another with fisherman's name and tie if off so they at least have they trap back and my anchor or worst a diver does not be come entangled in the line

January 7th, 2008, 09:32 AM
Good points to try to win the commercial fisherman.. Not all divers are bad apples. Any other NH divers out there willing to support? Pls. contact your local state reps! let your voice be heard. To find legislator for your town, go to: NH House of Representatives (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx)

January 8th, 2008, 02:57 PM
I've always wondered why this limited access to a natural resource is not discrimination. Why should only a select few have the right to take lobster.? If you're willing to fork out the money for the license and, most importantly, obey the laws why should you be denied access.

Does this protected group of "Lobstermen" received any type of Federal support? If so I'd think the laws against discrimination should apply.

January 8th, 2008, 05:10 PM
Maybe we should film how to catch a lobster....and yes why not the destruction cause by the fisherman traps on the bottom.....I have seen trails of dragged traps that destroyed all the living plants at its way. And yes they turn rocks out!!

In the other side I had the unfortunate incident of diving with someone who took a lobster from a trap....or used very unconventional methods to catch them....but well only we know that.

Both parts do commit mistakes...but is wrong not to share the rights to lobster.

January 11th, 2008, 07:16 PM
You might want to try to get your hands on statistics from MA. They make you report how many lobsters you caught the previous year when you apply for your license.

I think that would illustrate how small a percentage of them are taken by divers when compared to recreational and comercial lobster pots.

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