Amid high costs, Gov. Janet Mills announced that her administration is taking action to deliver relief for Maine’s commercial fishermen and ocean farmers.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) will use $8.3 million in federal funding to reimburse resident commercial fishermen, dealers, processors, and those in the aquaculture sector for the cost of their 2022 licenses, as well as additional fees associated with licenses such as trap tag fees for lobster license holders. DMR will also waive lease fees for active commercial leases for the 2022 lease year through a separate process.
Examples of licenses eligible for reimbursement include but are not limited to: a Class II lobster license with 800 tags ($1,203), a scallop dragger license ($243), a Zone 2 urchin dragger license ($312), or an elver license with two pieces of gear and crew ($498).
“Maine’s commercial fishing and seafood industry is a crucial cornerstone of our economy, and they are facing unprecedented increases in costs,” said Mills. “This puts money back in the pockets of Maine’s fishermen, aquaculturists, and dealers to help them offset growing business expenses, hopefully providing a small measure of relief for them.”
“Cost increases continue to challenge this important Maine industry,” said Patrick Keliher, DMR commissioner. “This relief comes at a critical time.”
Eligible recipients include resident commercial license holders who renew a license held in 2021 and who are 18 years or older as of January 2022. License holders with multiple licenses will receive reimbursement for all eligible licenses. Dealers are eligible for the license cost plus the cost of supplemental licenses held in 2021 and will be reimbursed after the conclusion of the 2022 dealer licensing year, which ends March 31, 2023.
License holders will receive a paper check in the mail at the address provided to DMR in the license application.
Lobster license holders who purchased a license between Nov. 15, 2021 and March 31, 2022, but ordered trap tags, or additional tags, after June 6, 2022, will be reimbursed for the tags during the next round of reimbursements. In addition, the reimbursement applies only to the purchase of initial tags, and not replacement tags.