At the 64th annual meeting of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association on March 2, long-time president David Cousens stepped down from his position as MLA president and Kristan Porter of Cutler was elected by the board of directors to the post. Porter, 47, was one of the MLA’s two vice-presidents.

Porter has been a member of the MLA for many years and on the board since 2002. A lobsterman and scalloper, he also helped establish the Downeast Draggermen’s Association in the 1990s, served on the state’s Sea Urchin Zone Council, and currently sits on the scallop advisory panel of the New England Fishery Management Council. Porter also is president of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum board of directors.

“The MLA has always been a strong voice when big issues come up in the state or in Washington. We have always been there at the table. That’s what we do best and it’s for all lobstermen. Whether you’re a member of the MLA or not, we have your back,” said Porter.

Porter has been very active in the issue of whale entanglement in fishing gear during the past 10 years, working with scientists to identify modifications to gear that would reduce the risk of entanglements. He recently participated in a reverse-engineering workshop in which scientists and fishermen analyzed fishing gear removed from whales, identifying the gear involved and reconstructing how the whales may have become entangled. In 2013, Porter attended a conference in Australia addressing methods to keep rock lobstermen’s gear from entangling whales and became familiar with their fishing methods. He returned to Australia in April 2015 to speak at the Rock Lobster Congress on Maine’s lobster fishery.

“One of the elements of our lobster fishery that I value is the fact that we are all independent and do things slightly differently along the coast, yet we all share similar values,” Porter said. “We all want to make sure that there are lobsters to harvest in Maine for the next generation and the generation after that.”

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is the state’s oldest fishermen’s organization, founded in 1954. Its mission is to advocate for a sustainable lobster resource and for the fishermen and communities that depend on it.

Cousens said he is proud of the things he accomplished over his 27 years as MLA president.

“I am honored to have worked with so many dedicated people over the years. We’ve had some rough times but I think the industry is in a better place than it was 27 years ago,” said Cousens. “Kristan is smart and a clear thinker so I know the organization is in good hands.”

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