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Maine fishing rule enforcement feared

KITTERY, Maine -- Renewed efforts to enforce a Maine law requiring New Hampshire lobstermen to have a Maine license before they can unload their boats in Maine has at least one company worried.

''For over 20 years now, New Hampshire boats have been allowed to use this side of the river to unload their catch," said Tom Flanigan, owner of Seaview Lobster Co. Enforcement of the rule could cut his business in half, he said.

''We were told when we started our business that the Division of Marine Resources recognized this unique situation, and because of that we were able to buy from New Hampshire boats and have been doing so for 12 years," he said.

Colonel Joseph Fessenden of the Maine Marine Patrol said New Hampshire lobstermen have long come to Maine to sell their catch even though it was contrary to state statute.

''By law, for somebody to bring lobsters to the dock, they have to have a Maine lobster license. Because of the unique situation down by Kittery and the border, it was overlooked," he said.

The rule stemmed from concerns about overfishing if the state allows out-of-staters to land lobster or other fish in Maine.

Maine already has 7,000 licensed fishermen.

To get a state lobster or crab harvesting license, people must enter an apprentice program. The apprentice program requires a minimum of two years documenting 1,000 hours and 200 fishing days with up to three sponsors.

New Hampshire lobstermen could use trucks to bring their catch into Maine, but Flanigan said he did not think this was feasible.

Fessenden said he understands the inconvenience for the fishermen that cross state lines. He said a couple of years ago a group brought this issue to the attention to the Legislature.

''There was actually a debate or discussion about it. It just didn't seem to go anywhere," he said.

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