April 21, 2017

Downeast fishermen use old trick to battle higher bait prices

Two Washington County fishermen plan to invest in an ancient technology to combat a new problem — namely, the high cost of lobster bait.

The Quoddy Tides reported that the fishermen will borrow pile-driving equipment to start creating a weir fishing system, the first used in that area in 15 years.

Lobster bait, primarily herring, is selling for as much as $90 for a "tote" unit. The high costs last summer reportedly drove Maine lobster fishermen to start buying porgies from as far away as New Jersey.

Scott MacNichol of Perry and Jason Leighton of Edmunds will build the weir at Shackford's Cove in Eastport. They're borrowing a pile driver owned by the operator of the Eastport Chowderhouse, Bob del Papa, who offered the equipment to fishermen as needed. The duo has also enlisted the help of fishermen familiar with the old ways.

The weir depends on migrating herring coming into the weir's netting, where they're trapped.

"We don't know if it will work or not," MacNichol told the Quoddy Tides in its April 14 print edition.

The Eastport Planning Board approved construction of the fishing system on April 4.


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