By Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A Maine Legislative panel could vote on a host of proposed changes to the state’s lobster fishing license program that are polarizing lobstermen.

The Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources is scheduled to consider the changes on Wednesday. The changes are designed to speed up the process of getting new lobstermen off the license waiting list, which is nearly 300 names long.

The proposal has drawn criticism from veteran lobstermen who fear overfishing the valuable crustaceans. The changes come as the state is experiencing record-high annual catches and prices to consumer are holding steady.

Younger lobstermen say the waiting list can take more than 10 years and they fear for the future of the fishery. The proposal was the subject of a well-attended public hearing on Feb. 10.

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