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That's My Bill: Bill would let N.H. scuba divers grab a lobster dinner on the go

Rep. Joe Duarte thinks specially licensed scuba divers should be able to grab dinner on the go if they see a couple of lobsters while they’re diving off the New Hampshire coast.

Duarte, a Candia Republican, has filed a bill at the Legislature this year “relative to special licenses for taking lobster while engaged in recreational scuba diving.” He said it’s identical to a bill sponsored by Franklin Republican Rep. Greg Hill that passed the House last year but was killed by the Senate. Hill didn’t win re-election to the House in November.

The state already offers a recreational permit allowing people to take up to five lobsters for personal consumption – not commercial sale – by using marked traps.

“But the problem is, you need a boat,” Duarte said. “And each lobster pot could go from anything from $150 to $200 each.”

Offering an extra license for scuba divers to take up to five lobsters a day by hand during the month of September, without the need for expensive traps, “would open up the resource to all our residents,” Duarte said.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee opposed the bill last year because, according to its report, it feared the new license “may affect New Hampshire’s conservative approach to the management of lobsters which has ensured that we have one of the few fisheries that is increasing its lobster resource.”

But Duarte said divers would have to respect the same restrictions on the sex and size of captured lobsters as do other lobstermen licensed by the state.

“I don’t think it would hurt anything,” he said. “I think it would stir some activity there on the Seacoast.”

BEN LEUBSDORF

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