Agency bans fishing for Maine lobster at mouth of Penobscot River

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PORTLAND (AP) — Scientists have known about high levels of mercury in lobsters for at least eight years before banning lobstermen from fishing in a small area this week.

The Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/Mega5N) reported that scientists had been monitoring lobsters downstream from the defunct Holtrachem plant on the Penobscot River as part of a court-ordered study.

The “discrete closure” announced Tuesday evening prevents harvesting of Maine’s signature seafood in seven square miles takes effect Saturday and is enacted by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The department said it received the results of a federally mandated study that disclosed the contamination in November 2013.

Lobster is the most valuable marine crop in Maine, making up more than 60 percent of the total value of Maine’s annual landings.

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