A bill that attempts to add more consistency to Maine’s lobster licensing rules, which have led to years-long waiting lists, gets a public hearing on Wednesday before the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee in Augusta. The hearing begins at 10 a.m., in Room 206 of the Cross Building.

The proposed rule changes are controversial, because they would influence how lobstermen in the state’s seven lobster management zones engage in the state’s most-lucrative fishery. The value of the catch landed in 2014 was nearly $457 million.

The current system, which is decades old, limits the number of people who can fish for lobsters as a way to keep the resource healthy. As of November 2015, 293 names were on waiting lists for licenses, some since 2005.

The proposed law would create a new, limited lobster and crab fishing license for a reduced number of traps, increase the age from 18 to 23 before someone who has gone through the industry’s apprenticeship program is put on a waiting list, and remove special fees for applicants age 70 or older, among other things.

More than 5,800 commercial lobster licenses were held in 2014.

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