The Department of Marine Resources will hold three scoping sessions in June to get industry input on ways to reduce vertical line risk to large whales and brainstorm potential management options that would work for Maine lobstermen.

These meetings are being held in advance of four National Marine Fisheries Service scoping sessions to be held in Maine in July to seek input from industry on ways to reduce the risk of serious injury or mortality of large whales due to incidental entanglements in fishing gear.

States have the opportunity to submit proposals to NMFS by Sept. 30.

“Your ideas for Maine’s proposal are critically important to our effort to determine what makes sense for Maine,” said a DMR press release. “All the stakeholders’ proposals will be evaluated at the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team meeting scheduled for late fall.”

In 2012, a draft proposed rule will be developed by NMFS based on the alternatives presented by the Take Reduction Team. NMFS will then publish a proposed rule scheduled for 2013 and will hold public hearings on the suite of risk reduction alternatives. The final rule is scheduled to be published and implemented in 2014.

More information about the DMR scoping sessions is available at maine.gov/dmr. The DMR sessions are scheduled for 6 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

  • Tuesday, June 21 — Biddeford Middle School cafeteria
  • Wednesday, June 22 — Ellsworth High School cafeteria
  • Thursday, June 23 — Rockland District Middle School cafeteria

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Atlantic Large Take Whale Reduction Plan meetings are scheduled to take place between 6 and 9 p.m. at the following dates and locations.

  • Monday, July 11 — Washington Academy, East Machias
  • Tuesday, July 12 — Ellsworth City Hall auditorium
  • Wednesday, July 13 — Rockland District High School auditorium
  • Thursday, July 14 — Portland City Hall, State of Maine Room

For more information about the DMR sessions, contact Sarah Cotnoir at the Department of Marine Resources at 624-6596. For information about the Atlantic Large Take Whale Reduction Plan meetings, contact Kate Swails at kate.swails@noaa.gov or 978-282-8481.