Facing a shortage of herring that threatens the Maine’s fishing industry, lobstermen and bait fishermen have been relying on menhaden during the peak of the lobster season. Menhaden, known locally as pogies, is the common alternative bait used by lobstermen.

The annual catch limit had been exceeded in July and an emergency extension of the quota to 3.5 million pounds for New England was instituted. As the catch rapidly approached the temporary “episodic event” quota extension, the Maine Department of Marine Resources closed the pogie fishery.

The week of Aug. 19, Maine DMR reopened the pogie fishery after it determined that, even with the increased catch, fish stocks remain healthy.

Dave Emery, Republican candidate for the Maine Senate in District 12, was a member of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, Conservation, and the Environment when he served in Congress. Emery met at F.J. O’Hara & Sons with fishermen and industry experts two weeks ago to discuss the bait issue, along with other issues impacting the industry.

“Better data and more frequent analysis would provide the industry with a more complete understanding of fish population. This is important both to guarantee necessary conservation measures, but also to provide the lobster industry with sufficient bait for the robust lobster market, which is valued at $500 million in Maine,” Emery said.

“State-of-the-art technology would allow fishing vessels to continuously capture data in real time, thereby increasing the accuracy and quality of data collected. Maine fishermen are dedicated stewards of Maine’s marine resources. It is important that they have the tools that will help them along the path of continuous improvement in protecting a resource that is critical to Maine and New England,” concluded Emery.

Emery is running against incumbent Dave Miramant, a Democrat, for the Senate seat that represents Knox County, with the exception of Washington.