Maine Law Opens Doors for Aspiring Lobster Fishermen

Working lobster boat off Chebeague Island.
Working lobster boat off Chebeague Island.

A recent law change has made it easier for Maine students who have their sights set on a career in lobstering to get started. LD 1503, signed into law on April 5, has extended the age by which young Mainers have to fulfill requirements necessary to bypass the waiting lists of Maine’s 6 limited-entry lobster management zones.

Previously, student license holders had to fulfill requirements of the Apprentice Program and any apprentice rules adopted by the management zone of their choice before they reached 18 to avoid being placed on a waiting list for a commercial license.

The Apprentice Program requires the completion of 1,000 fishing hours over a minimum of 200 days stretched out over a minimum of two years.

The new law provides 2 additional options for young aspiring lobstermen. One option will allow individuals to bypass the waiting list in a declared zone if they have met the Apprentice Program requirements, received a high school or equivalency diploma, and met additional apprentice program rules of the zone in which they want to fish before the age of 20.

The other option will extend the eligible age for bypassing a wait list to under the age of 23. This option requires the license holder to have begun fishing in the Apprentice Program before the age of 18 and have completed it before the age of 23. Additionally, license holders must have been eligible for a student license since before they were 18, they must be enrolled at least half time at an accredited post-secondary institution, and have met additional apprentice program rules of the zone in which they want to fish.

Individuals who believe they have fulfilled the new requirements and are interested in applying for a commercial license are directed by the Department of Marine Resources to visit their website HERE for detailed instructions on the application process.