Maine Lobsterman Faces 10-Year Suspension for Violations
September 21, 2017
William Haas, 55 of Lamoine, Maine, has been charged by the Maine Marine Patrol with fishing more lobster traps than authorized, fishing untagged gear and fishing more traps on a trawl than allowed.
Because of a recent law change, Haas faces a suspension of his license of between three and ten years for fishing 44 more traps than the 800 allowed by law. The law, LD 575, changed the penalty for fishing over the trap limit from a possible one-year suspension to a mandatory minimum 3-year suspension with the possibility of a 10-year suspension. Penalties were also stiffened for trap molesting, fishing sunken trawls, scrubbing eggs, and arson, or other means of destroying another lobsterman’s vessel.
The investigation that led to the charges stemmed from a routine patrol in which Marine Patrol personnel hauled and checked a sample of Haas’ gear. Haas fishes in Maine Lobster Zone B, which stretches between Schoodic Point and Newbury Neck. The patrol, conducted earlier in the month, revealed that Haas was fishing traps that did not include required tags, which identify the harvester.
Based on the findings of the routine patrol, Marine Patrol conducted a targeted investigation on the evening of September 11, 2017 involving 3 Marine Patrol vessels and more than 10 officers.
Fishing more than 25 untagged traps is, under the new law, a Class D criminal violation, which, in addition to the mandatory suspension, carries the possibility of a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Haas was also charged with violating a regulation that restricts the number of traps on a string, known as a trawl, to three. The penalty for violating this regulation is $100 per violation.
Haas is also required to use a Vessel Monitoring System for a length of time equal to his license suspension after he re-enters the fishery. If the system is used it will allow Marine Patrol to monitor Haas’ geographic location while fishing. In addition, the law allows the Commissioner to limit Haas to only 300 traps when he reenters the fishery, and permits him to add 100 traps per year until he reaches his zone limit of 800 traps.