BANGOR, Maine — A lobsterman from Stonington is facing numerous charges after a Maine Marine Patrol investigation this month into illegal lobster harvesting activity.
Benjamin Weed, 29, is charged with fishing with untagged lobster traps, fishing more than 49 percent of his allotted traps in a limited entry zone, fishing 287 traps without the necessary tags declaring both zones he was licensed to fish in and three violations of regulations designed to protect whales.
Weed faces up to $17,250 in fines and the prospect of a one-year suspension of his license and the ability to obtain any license, the department said Thursday in a news release.
Weed holds a lobster license and also held a commercial fishing license and shrimp license last year.
“The potential fine he is facing is substantial but the possibility of a one-year loss of income could have a far greater consequence,” Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said.
Weed is authorized to fish 800 traps but by law must fish the majority of them in lobster Zone C, which stretches from Cape Rosier to Newberry Neck. Harvesters must declare a zone in which they intend to fish the majority of their traps. They are allowed to fish in other zones but the majority of their allotted traps must be in their declared zone.
The marine patrol investigation indicated that Weed was fishing all of his traps in Zone B.
According to the marine patrol, Weed also was found to be fishing 29 traps without tags and another 287 without proper tags identifying the zones in which he was licensed to fish.
The investigation also indicated that Weed failed to comply with regulations designed to protect whales. He was found to be using flotation devices on ground lines and floating ground lines between traps and he failed to connect buoys with a weak link that would break under 600 pounds of force.
A letter notifying Weed of his suspension was issued on Thursday. Unless he requests a hearing within 10 days of receipt of the letter, Weed’s one-year suspension, the maximum possible by law, will take effect on May 3.
Weed also can request a length of suspension hearing with the commissioner or appeal the suspension in Superior Court.