Tag Archives: maine

Maine: Updates to Lobster Industry from Commissioner Keliher

As has been the case over the past several years, there is no shortage of issues facing the lobster industry. I am keenly aware what all the uncertainty around right whales does to both the people and businesses in this industry, and I am afraid that an end to that uncertainty does not seem to be in sight. However, major changes could be identified soon, depending on what a federal judge decides this fall. In addition to right whales, there have been continued discussions at ASMFC about whether there are further management changes needed to protect the resiliency of the lobster stock. Finally, the market challenges and resulting price impacts this summer have generated a lot of calls and questions to my office about what DMR can do to improve this situation. I wanted to provide updates on all these topics, to keep you as informed as possible as these situations evolve. >click to read< 13:57

Portland Fish Exchange’s future murky as sales plummet

The future course of the Portland Fish Exchange is deeply uncertain but will likely be set this fall. The exchange, which was opened by the city in 1986, has provided nearly daily auctions of fish on the Portland Fish Pier.  It was seen as a solid market-based alternative to the long-standing system that saw many fishermen turn their catch over to pier owners, who then trucked the fish out of state and tried to get a good price for them in markets elsewhere in New England or in New York. Last year, it hit rock bottom, with only 1.4 million pounds of fish auctioned. Some daily auctions were canceled because there simply wasn’t enough cod, haddock, flounder and halibut to attract commercial buyers. >click to read< 09:15

Portland lobstermen catch rare blue lobster

A father and son fishing in Casco Bay Thursday morning caught a rare, blue lobster that will be preserved in a tank at one of the Portland waterfront’s best-known restaurants. The lobster, which is bright blue, was caught in the ocean waters beyond Peaks Island, said Luke Rand, who serves as sternman on his father’s boat, the Audrey B. Rand. Rand, 36, has been fishing since he was 16. “We’ve never pulled one this color or even seen one to throw back,” said Rand, who lives in Falmouth. His dad, Mark Rand, has been fishing for more than 40 years. Video, photo, >click to read< 14:44

Fundraiser for Maine Lobstermen’s Association raises over $50K

With donations still rolling in, organizers of the fundraiser for the Maine Lobstermen’s Association held at Brady’s restaurant in Boothbay Harbor on Sunday, Aug. 7 report that over $50,000 has been raised. Proceeds from the event will go to the defense fund and will help with costs of MLA’s lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for their plan to require a 98% cut in the risk to right whales by 2030. MLA, represented by Stoel Rives, is challenging the plan in court. In November 2021, MLA launched a three-year, $10 million fundraising campaign to be used to help protect Maine’s lobstering heritage. Lots of photos! >click to read< 06:59

The Birds Eye Fleet

In 1954, General Foods Birdseye Division was a big part of Rockland’s waterfront. In addition to a fish processing operation on Tillson Avenue, the company had a shipyard on Mechanic Street that maintained a fleet of nine fishing boats. On the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1954, the Surf went aground on the ledges of Devil’s Limb off Seal Island, to the west of Nova Scotia. The Surf was built in 1937 and was registered at 309 tons. Her length was 132 feet with a 25-foot beam, powered by a 750-horsepower diesel. Captain Douglas Schwartz of Rockland was taking the trawler and his crew of 10 men to the Grand Banks, having left the day before at 4 p.m. It is believed the trawler’s compass was off. Men who have sailed the area observe the Surf was 15 to 20 miles off course when she ran aground. >click to read< 11:53

Maine Lobstermen’s Association appreciates Brady’s fundraiser

Lobster is the iconic symbol of the state of Maine, but new federal regulations threaten the future of this fishery. To boost the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s (MLA) effort to preserve this way of life, the Boothbay Harbor community is teaming up to host a fundraiser on Sunday, Aug. 7. The event, a community lobster dinner, raffle, and auction, will be held at Brady’s, 25 Union Street, from 3-6 p.m. and proceeds will be donated to the MLA’s “Save Maine Lobstermen” campaign. >click to read< 09:45

A one-two punch – Lobster prices reach pre-pandemic cost

It’s more unwelcoming news for lobstermen and women the price of soft shell lobster has dropped to pre-pandemic levels. Beal’s Lobster Pier dock manager Justin Snyder says its a one-two punch for lobstermen. “What’s really affecting them is the increase in costs in everything else, so the lobster prices have fallen back to normal, but everything else is just as expensive bait and fuel mostly,” said Snyder. Not only is inflation a primary reason, but Snyder said it also has to do with supply and demand. “We’re seeing a reduction in the demand compared to last year. We’re in the high supply part of the lobster season. If the demand is not there and there’s no more supply, the lobster prices are going to go down,” Video, >click to read<  17:14

North Haven boy continues generations-long family tradition of lobstering

 If his sandy blonde hair and freckles don’t give it away, eight-year-old Argyle MacDonald loves spending time on the ocean. Born and raised on the island of North Haven off the coast of Rockland, Argyle has the saltwater in his blood — and that blood runs generations deep. Since he was four years old, Argyle has been going out to sea with his Dad, Jason MacDonald, who has been lobstering for 40 years and counting. Jason was also born and raised on the island and started learning the craft around Argyle’s age. Now, Argyle is following his Dad’s footsteps. Video, >click to read< 08:26

Ship Strikes: Ships must slow down more often to save whales, feds say

Vessels off the East Coast must slow down more often to help save a vanishing species of whale from extinction, the federal government said Friday. Efforts to save the whales have long focused on fishing gear, especially that used by East Coast lobster fishermen. The proposed vessel speed rules signal that the government wants the shipping industry to take more responsibility. “Changes to the existing vessel speed regulation are essential to stabilize the ongoing right whale population decline and prevent the species’ extinction,” state the proposed rules, which are slated to be published in the federal register. Fishermen are unfairly being held accountable for whale deaths that occur due to vessel strikes, said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, which is the largest fishing industry association on the East Coast. >click to read< 11:33

Fishery regulators will discuss possible rise in minimum lobster size

Fishing regulators will gather in Virginia next week to talk about the potential of raising the minimum size lobsters need to be in order to be harvested by New England fishermen. The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission’s lobster management board is meeting on Tuesday to discuss the implications of a proposal that would install new minimum size limits and other regulations for the crustaceans, either gradually over time or triggered by lobster populations dipping below a certain level. The proposal was drafted to protect the lobster population as surveys show indications of potential future decline. The idea has rankled many Maine lobstermen,,, >click to read< 09:25

Video: Maine fisherman catches monster wolf fish, here’s what happened next

A fisherman recently caught a monster wolf fish, gave it a lobster to eat and then threw it back into the ocean. Maine fisherman Jacob Knowles posted a video of himself catching the giant fish on Instagram. At the start of the clip, the wolf fish could be seen lying on the floor of the boat. As the fish growls and thrashes around, Knowles could then be seen picking up the creature and holding it up to the camera. The reel, that has got more than 8,000 views on Instagram so far, shows Knowles saying that the wolf fish killed everything in the trap. He added that wolf fish is a rare found. “We let them go as soon as we get them. I guess we’ll give him a snack seeing as he’s already killed everything,” Video, >click to watch/read< 09:28

Harpswell Lobster Boat Races draw a crowd at new location, with race results

Spectators crowded onto the waterfront at Mitchell Field and boats in Middle Bay on July 24 to watch the Harpswell Lobster Boat Races. There were 25 races this year, with boats divided into classes based on factors that include size and horsepower. The races moved to Middle Bay this year from Potts Harbor. According to Ashley Lenz, a member of the committee that organizes the races, the new location allows more people to watch from land, with a better view. >click to read< 10:29

Shark Stories Stir the Memories for Retired Lobsterman Brian Sawyer

The story of a shark attacking a seal off Pemaquid Point earlier in July caused little alarm but prompted a great deal of interest among local readers. New Harbor native Brian Sawyer took a particular interest, having played a role in a shark story that made the front page of The Lincoln County News in 1961.The front page of the July 27, 1961 edition featured a photo of the shark, hanging upside down at what is now Shaw’s Wharf in New Harbor. According to the article, “Man-eater caught off New (Harbor),” Gerald “Jerry” and Douglas Brackett harpooned the shark and hauled it aboard their 28-foot lobster boat following a five-hour struggle. Bernard E. Skeed, then director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biological Laboratory at Boothbay Harbor, confirmed it was a great white shark, “not common in Maine waters.” “Doug Brackett harvested it.” Sawyer said, who was 14 years old at the time. Photos, >click to read< 12:48

Facing industry challenges, Harpswell Lobster Boat Races take center stage

Thousands gathered to unwind at the Harpswell Lobster Boat Races. “Today is a day for them to just kick back and relax,” said Mary Coombs, a committee member of the Harpswell Lobster Boat Races. Heats broken down by boat size, and cash prizes awaiting the winners. In 2020 the races were cancelled and last year weather dampened the festivities. “This year we moved it to Mitchell Field so we’ve got more space, more people can view it by land and there’s just more energy behind it,” said Coombs. Video, photos, >click to read< 10:14

Crackpot Alert! Replace Lobsterman Statue With Lobster Crushing a Trap, PETA Urges Mayor

“Lobsters feel pain and fear, and since they can’t go into shock to escape pain, they suffer greatly when they’re dragged out of their watery homes to be boiled or broiled alive,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA urges the mayor to greenlight a statue that would shellebrate these remarkable sea beings for who they are, not for how humans exploit them.” PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. >click to read the foolish fetishism< 09:24

Lobstermen take break from industry worries to race and ‘raise some hell’

Harpswell’s annual lobster boat race returns this Sunday, when Maine lobstermen and fishermen compete in a mile-long, full-throttle boat race for a chance to win a cash prize and bragging rights. “They want everybody else to see what their boats can do. They are all supportive, but competitive,” said race volunteer Mary Coombs. Coombs said the best part as a spectator is to see the lobstermen taking a break from their work and enjoying themselves. “It’s nice to see one day where they aren’t worried about whales, or lines and they just go,” said Coombs. “It’s fun to see them not in their oil gear, but in their bare feet behind the wheel.” >click to read< 08:24

A thank-you letter from the owners of ‘Band Wagon’

To the Camden and Penobscot Bay Waterfront Community: As the owners of Band Wagon, we wanted to extend our sincere thanks to all those involved in our rescue on Wednesday, July 13. While we are heartbroken about our boat, we are incredibly lucky that no one was hurt thanks to all those involved. Someone was certainly looking out for us that morning as we could have been cruising at a much faster rate, further out at sea, or in inclement weather or fog. Special thanks to: Good Samaritans Brad Scott and his crew Charlie Garrigan, aboard the lobster boat Web, who heard our distress call and were first on the scene. >click to read< 09:50

Maine lobster industry braces for tough season after back-to-back legal losses

“We recently got our license to be able to start processing small amounts on site, so that is cooking the lobster and picking out the meat … in hopes of taking out one step,” Jillian Robillard said. A step that she said could give lobstermen another 25 to 50 cents per animal. “That would really be a gamechanger for some of these guys,” Robillard said. “This year has been really tough so far … we’re banking on the fall season to give these guys two-thirds of their income … but with the closures and stuff we’re just not going to see that happen.” The closure she is talking about is the latest development in three lawsuits involving Maine lobstermen. Two of which that have recent rulings within the last week overturned in favor of environmental groups. >click to read< 11:13

Mills & Maine Congressional Delegation Respond to First Circuit Court’s Decision

Portland, Maine – Governor Janet Mills and U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden issued the following statement today in response to the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision reinstating a ban on lobster fishing gear in nearly 1,000 square miles in the Gulf of Maine: “Once again, Maine’s lobstermen have been unfairly targeted by a misguided court decision. Today’s ruling fails to acknowledge the substantial steps that Maine’s lobster industry has already taken to comply with gear change rules to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale. We are deeply disappointed and will continue to strongly advocate for our state’s lobster industry.” >link<

Maine politicians blast ‘unfair’ court decision targeting lobster gear – A federal circuit court has reinstated a ban on lobster fishing gear in a nearly 1,000-square-mile area off New England to try to protect endangered whales. The U.S. District Court for the District of Maine issued a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of the rules. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston vacated that ruling Tuesday. >click to read< 11:09

Economic destructive inflation: Falling wholesale prices put squeeze on Maine lobstermen

The price lobstermen got for their catches hovered around $8 a pound in 2021, which they said was one of their best years ever, with a plentiful haul, high prices and stable costs. This year, however, is shaping up to be one of the worst Maine lobstermen have faced in decades, with prices falling to about half of what they were last year. Prices have dropped by half and wholesalers say demand also is down sharply as inflation has weakened the economy and hurt the market for shellfish. With consumers paying high prices to fill up gas tanks and to buy groceries, lobsters are a luxury that many cross off their shopping lists. Inflation is hitting lobstermen, too, particularly when they fill up fuel tanks before heading out to tend their traps. They say pretty much everything they need costs more this year, from fuel, oil and repairs for their engines to ropes and traps. Bait, too,,, photos, >click to read<

Statement from Maine Lobstermen’s Association on Court Ruling

Below is a statement from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association following today’s decision in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) will not allow this industry to go down without a fight. Today’s ruling from the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia is a mixed bag but clearly demonstrates why it’s more important than ever for MLA to have the financial resources to continue this battle. >click to continue< 21:01

Enviros challenge Maine lobster fishery’s sustainability certification

The Natural Resources Defense Council and other conservation groups are challenging a seafood watchdog’s recertification of the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery as a sustainable resource. The Gulf of Maine’s lobster fishery first received the Maine Stewardship Council’s sustainability certification in 2013, and since then participating lobster businesses have been able to display the council’s blue fish checkmark recognized by eco-minded consumers. Virginia Olsen of the Maine Lobstering Union calls the resource defense council’s effort unfortunate. “Maine fishermen have stepped up to implement whale rules time and time again,”>click to read< 15:21

Maine lobster industry may receive nearly $14 million in federal aid

U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree, both Democrats from Maine, helped secure the funding and pledged to keep advocating for the fishery. In a statement, Golden called the regulations misguided, indefensible and economically damaging. “NOAA has been unable to prove that these regulations will work, but lobstermen are still being forced to pick up the tab,” he said. “It’s just wrong.” Virginia Olsen, director of the Maine Lobstering Union, said the money will help keep fishermen in business as they “work to right the wrongs” of the new regulations. Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, agreed. >click to read< 19:58

Bluefin Benefit Battle competition to help families in Maine battling cancer

The Bluefin Benefit Battle will gather fishermen in Maine while raising money for an important cause: families battling cancer. The event is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. “The goal is to raise as much money as we can for Maine families battling cancer. Mitchell Napolitano and his wife Lexi, an ICU nurse, came up with the idea. He has been fishing for tuna for over two decades and has participated in all of Maine’s tuna tournaments since he was a kid. “I figured with the connections that my wife and I have, between her being an ICU nurse at Maine Med and the deep roots that we have in the commercial fishing industry, I figured we could do a good deed and give back a little bit to the community by giving back to families in need in Maine,” Napolitano said. photos, video, >click to read< 14:42

Lobstermen frustrated by regulations after new study shows whale entanglements decline

A new report has Maine lobstermen saying, “I told you so.” The report says large whale entanglements dropped in 2020, including for the right whale. Lobstermen in Maine have long argued they should not be blamed for the right whales’ population decline, which makes this new study from NOAA all the more frustrating. “I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Harpswell lobster boat captain Forrest Moody said. “This is what we know.” Moody calls the new changes to the industry “life-altering.” “There hasn’t always been evidence to prove or say what they were asking us to do but we still were, we were still made to do it,” Moody said. Video, photos, >click to read< 09:08

America’s scallop harvest projected to decline again in 2022

The decline in scallops is happening as prices for the shellfish, one of the most lucrative seafoods in America, has increased amid inflation and fluctuations in catch. Seafood counters that sold scallops for $20 per pound to customers two years ago often sell them for $25 per pound or more now. U.S. scallop fishers harvested more than 60 million pounds of scallops in 2019, but the catch has declined since, and fishers were projected to harvest about 40 million pounds of scallops in the 2021 fishing year. That number is projected to fall to 34 million pounds in the 2022 fishing year, which started this spring, according to the New England Fishery Management Council. >click to read< 13:48

Casco Bay Concert to Benefit Maine Lobstermen

Third annual event off Chebeague Island will support Maine Lobstermen’s Association #SaveMaineLobstermen campaign – Local lobstermen, fishing families, and supporters will join forces off the shores of Chebeague Island this weekend for the third annual “Concert on Casco Bay.” The event, to be held Sunday, July 3rd from 12:30-4:00 PM, will feature the music of the Chebeague Island-based band, Turd Pollack, a blues-based jam band comprised of fishermen. Jamie Juenemann, of the Old Dusty’s, will also perform. The free concert will be held near the Chebeague Island Boat Yard, and the public is invited to anchor near the southeast side of the island. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s #SaveMaineLobstermen campaign to protect the future of the state’s iconic lobster industry. >click to read the details!< 11:25

Governor Mills Announces Cost Relief for Maine’s Commercial Fishermen and Aquaculturists

The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) will use $8.3 million in Federal funding to reimburse resident commercial fishermen, dealers, processors, and aquaculturists for the cost of their 2022 licenses, as well as additional fees associated with licenses such as trap tag fees for lobster license holders. The Department will also waive lease fees for active commercial leases for the 2022 lease year through a separate process. The first round of payments, which amount to $4.2 million, will be mailed by the end of this month for license holders who purchased their license between November 15, 2021 and March 31, 2022. Reimbursements for licenses purchased during each of the remaining quarters of 2022 will be mailed separately. >click to read< 16:45

Taylor’s Blue Eyed Girl wins fastest working lobster boat

Andrew Taylor of Southport, owner of Blue Eyed Girl, defended his title as the Fastest Working Lobster Boat, at the Charles Begin Memorial Lobster Boat Races in Boothbay Harbor on Saturday, June 18. Forty boats competed in the first race of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing season. Taylor’s boat defeated three other competitors in the Fastest Working Lobster Boat race. His time was just over 47 mph. Taking second was Gold Digger, Heather Thompson, at 44 mph. Below are the results as provided by Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing. >click to read<, and review 64  excellent photos from Raceday! 08:12

Down East seafood harvesters struggle to access health care, according to survey

Unless she needs to be stitched up, Deer Isle lobsterman Julie Eaton probably isn’t going to the hospital. She’d have to dock her boat in Stonington and drive up to the hospital in Blue Hill, nearly a 45-minute ride away. Not only will she lose out on a fishing day, but when she does get there, it’ll probably cost an arm and a leg, because Eaton, like many lobstermen, doesn’t have insurance. “Health care is a challenge,” she said. “I don’t have insurance. I don’t go unless I’m bleeding.” It’s a common refrain in the industry and one backed up by the results of a recent survey of more than 100 Down East lobstermen and shellfish harvesters. >click to read< 21:43