Proposed Moratorium on Lobster Fishing Nets Strong Opposition


A coalition of lobster fishermen, local, federal and state officials are opposing a proposed three-month moratorium on commercial lobster fishing in Long Island Sound, where the crustaceans have been dying off for the last 12 years.
In a story first reported by the New Haven Register, the group “urged the government instead to take a closer look at pesticides that some blame for the Sound-wide lobster die-off that began about 12 years ago and fully fund efforts to improve water quality by continuing to clean up Long Island Sound. The moratorium is proposed by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
“We need to stop putting poison in the drainage system and try to clean up the Sound,” said Nick Crismale, a Guilford lobsterman who is president of the Connecticut Commercial Lobstermen’s Association. “The state shouldn’t be asking us to reduce [our work] because they haven’t done anything. If not them, then who do we hold accountable?”
He made his remarks at the Guilford Lobster Pound where he was joined by members of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and legislators, including U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, state Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, and state Reps. Patricia Widlitz, D-Guilford, Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, and Elissa Wright, D-Groton.
“Continuing to punish the lobstermen with restrictions doesn’t get at the root cause of the lobster population decline,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, in a statement. “We don’t ban our farmers from the land, why are we banning our lobstermen from the sea? Our federal leaders need to offer solutions for the lobstermen by restoring the water quality and protecting habitat in Long Island Sound, not putting our lobstermen out of business.”
As reported in the Boston Globe last October, only about 30 full-time lobstermen are left in Connecticut, down from more than 300 in the years before a devastating lobster die-off in 1999. The article said the 1999 crash was heralded by the typically feisty lobsters turning limp and losing their fight. The pattern has repeated itself each late summer, and state officials say they receive a larger number of anecdotal reports of sick and dying lobsters every year.
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