According to the Web site wordorigins.org, “Scuttlebutt is an early 19th century nautical term for an open cask of water kept on deck for use by the crew. The term comes from scuttle — to cut a hole in — and butt — a large cask. Sailors would gather about the cask and trade stories and gossip, much like modern office workers do at the water cooler or coffee pot. By the turn of the 20th century, American sailors began using the term scuttlebutt to refer to these sea stories and gossip. Eventually the term became associated with any gossip or rumor.”

Ghost gear project sets meeting dates

KENNEBUNK — The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation has scheduled three meetings to finalize details for the first leg of its ghost gear recovery project.

• Zone C: Monday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. at the Penobscot East Resource Center office in Stonington.

• Zone A: Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Jonesport Elementary School in Jonesport.

• Zone B: Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at Jasper’s Restaurant in Ellsworth.

For more information, call the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation at 985-8088.

Federal grant proposal could launch marine zoning

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A report on the Greenwire Web site at eenews.net pointed to $20 million in grants for regional ocean partnerships in the White House’s proposed fiscal year 2011 budget. The report stated that the competitive grants would support planning for marine zoning.

“This is a substantial investment,” said Emily Woglom of the Nature Conservancy in the Greenwire report. “It would make it possible for regions to start marine spatial planning frameworks.”

The proposal is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $5.55 billion annual budget.

NOAA is directing proposed funding increases toward what the administration considers its most important initiatives, which include the regional ocean partnerships that aim to advance draft recommendations from President Barak Obama’s interagency ocean task force, the report said.

“The marine planning system is intended to help the government address growing demands on oceans and coasts. It would clarify which agencies oversee permitting for marine development, address conflicts between shipping and marine mammal protection and decide in cases involving proposed energy projects and recreational areas,” the report said.

“The task force’s draft recommendations map out processes for regional intergovernmental co-operation over ocean development over the next five years,” the report continued. “They call for scientific data to be a foundation for regional planning.”

The report said ocean experts have recommended regional intergovernmental planning efforts for marine issues because oceans are not confined by state or federal boundaries.

“The regional planning system in NOAA’s budget would be the first step,” the report said. “The Obama budget proposal says competitive grants should be delivered to entities doing ‘marine spatial planning’ — identifying areas most suitable for certain types of projects.”

Currently, states manage marine waters within three miles of their coasts, and the federal government oversees waters between three and 200 nautical miles offshore.

Six regional groups already exist. They are the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Northeast Regional Ocean Council, Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health, Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean and South Atlantic Alliance.

Marine Systems Center announces upcoming courses

THOMASTON — The following programs are scheduled to be offered at the Marine Systems Center in Thomaston.

• Feb. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to noon: Basic urethane paint training

• March 3 from 8:30 a.m. to noon: Watermakers: Reverse osmosis desalination for small craft

• March 10 from 9 a.m. to noon: LED lighting

For more information, call 354-8803 or write to info@marinesystemstraining.com.

Lobstermen plan international Fishermen’s Exchange

KENNEBUNK — Lobstermen from all over the world will travel to Maine March 4-14 through a Fishermen’s Exchange organized by the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.

Seven lobstermen from Tasmania, West Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and the Caribbean will meet with Maine lobstermen.

The exchange will begin with a Midcoast Regional Meeting March 4 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. Exchange participants will spend three days at the forum networking with Maine fishermen. Afterward, the Fishermen’s Exchange will hit the road — visiting wharves and local businesses, attending community dinners and hosting talks in Downeast, Midcoast and southern Maine locations. Maine families are providing home-stays and organizing community events for their international lobstermen counterparts.

Maine lobstermen are encouraged to meet their peers from overseas and share ideas on gear, bait usage and how to weather the recession.

The Downeast regional meeting will be held at the Ellsworth City Hall Tuesday, March 9 from 2 to 4 p.m., and a Southern regional meeting will be held at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute on Friday, March 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. Lobstermen are encouraged to attend.

The Fishermen’s Exchange will host events in Cutler Sunday and Monday, March 7 and 8, Jonesport on MOnday, March 8, the Mount Desert Island area on Monday and Tuesday, March 8 and 9, Stonington on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 9 and 10, Vinalhaven on Wednesday and Thursday, March 10 and 11, Phippsburg on Thursday and Friday, March 11 and 12, and Long Island and Portland on Friday and Sunday, March 12 and 14. International Lobstermen will attend the Boston Seafood Show on Sunday, March 14.

Funding for the project was provided by the Maine Sea Grant, Maine Fishermen’s Forum, Island Institute, Maine Research, Education and Development Fund, and in-kind support from Maine’s fishing communities and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.

For more information, call 967-4555 or e-mail patrice@mainelobstermen.org.

National Marine Fisheries Service has new leader

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Eric Schwaab, the deputy secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, has been named by the Obama administration to run the National Marine Fisheries Service, according to a story in the Baltimore Sun.

Schwaab, a 23-year veteran at DNR, will begin his new duties Tuesday, Feb. 23 as assistant administrator for fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In the past few years, DNR has pressed controversial changes in management of the Chesapeake Bay’s oysters — expanding sanctuaries where commercial harvest is banned while encouraging watermen to take up oyster farming. The state also imposed major catch reductions on blue crabs in an attempt to rebuild their numbers, another decision criticized by many commercial fishermen.

Canadian lobster industry gets funds for marketing

OTTAWA — Atlantic Canada’s lobster industry is getting $417,000 (Canadian) to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy, according to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. online report.

Ottawa is contributing $352,000 (Canadian), while the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec are providing a combined total of $65,000 (Canadian), the report said.

“Lobster prices in the region dipped to below $3 a pound last season, a 20-year low,” the CBC report said.

On hand for the government announcement were officials from the University of Prince Edward Island and members of the newly formed Lobster Council of Canada.

The council, which has a two-year budget of $370,000 (Canadian) and will act as the oversight committee for the project, includes fishermen, processors and Native American representatives.

A consulting firm hired by the council will issue a report on international markets after the start of the spring lobster season, the report said.

Send scuttlebutt to Herald Gazette reporter Shlomit Auciello at sauciello@villagesoup.com or call 207-236-8511.