DV-10-02 Creating dialogue on the Maine lobster fishery through lessons from lobster fisheries around the world

Patrice McCarron
Maine Lobstermen’s Association
21 Western Ave. #1
Kennebunk, ME 04043

The Maine lobster fishery is experiencing serious economic challenges due to a combination of poor lobster prices and escalating operating expenses. The Maine lobster fishery is comprised of 5,500 commercial license holders with landings valued at more than $244 million in 2008, a 23% reduction from a peak value of $317 million in 2005. The Maine lobster fishery accounts for 68% of the value of all seafood landed in Maine and 79% of all US lobster landings.

The Maine lobster industry has been ineffective in generating dialogue on ways to improve the economic viability of the industry. The industry’s a strong culture and pride in the independent nature of fishing operations makes change difficult; several recent attempts to evaluate effort reduction as a potential solution to economic instability have not resulted in altered policy or practice. Appealing to fishermen’s curiosity in other fishermen’s activity, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association hosted an exchange program, inviting lobstermen from seven lobster trap fisheries around the world to meet with Maine lobstermen and foster dialogue on what is and is not working. Visiting lobstermen attended the Maine Fishermen’s Forum and other events in March 2010 to generate new ideas to maximize profits and gain economic stability in the Maine lobster fishery. Other partners in the project include the Downeast Lobstermen’s Association, and Lobster Advisory Council.

Travel support, $5,000