Marine Patrol: Fishing Conflicts ‘Can’t Continue’ 

A shooting on Matinicus island is prompting the state to close the waters off the island to lobstering for at least two weeks. Officials say they hope it will be a cooling off period after a number of disputes there this spring and summer.Marine Patrol and Coast Guard officials say they will be on or around the island at all times right now to make sure there are no further incidents.Lt. Alan Talbot with Marine Patrol says there have been serious gear conflicts, hundreds of cut traps and vandalized property in the past.It all boiled over on Monday when 68-year-old Vance Bunker allegedly shot 38-year-old Chris Young in the neck on an island pier. It took place in front of a Marine Patrol Member who was investigating a fishing dispute between the two men.Bunker is charged with elevated aggravated assault. He was released from jail Tuesday on property bail of 125 thousand dollars. He’s been ordered not to return to the island or have any contact with Chris Young or two other individuals there.Young is still in the hospital.Meanwhile, there are 31 licensed lobstermen on the island without work for the next two weeks. Some are looking at economic impacts. “It will have a devastating effect on the people in the business, especially the people who try to make a living on Matinicus Island. But it’s also going to have a trickle-down effect for the merchants here on the mainland,” says Rockland city councilor Thomas Molloy.The fishing closure takes effect 30 minutes before sunrise Thursday and ends at midnight August 6. It bans all lobster and crab fishing licensed activities including the setting or taking up of gear, and will be enforced by marine officials.Lt. Talbot says he hopes the closure sends a message that conflicts over fishing can’t continue.