Stonington, ME Lobstering by Nancy Morris from Pixabay
Maine fishermen, in general, are satisfied with the catch from 2020 even though it didn’t meet the 100 million pound of lobsters caught over the past nine years as recorded by the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
However, at 96 million pounds during a pandemic, Maine lobster fishermen say it was far better than expected. Likewise, the economic numbers were better than expected.
Maine lobstermen brought in $400 million from the 96 million pounds that averaged $4.20 per pound on Maine docks. That per-pound price was $.62 less than the cost in 2019 but higher than previous years. Lobster prices are determined by supply and demand like most other commodities.
Stonington, ME, is one of the best lobster fishing towns in the state. It’s also a picturesque island village that brings in more lobster than anywhere else in Maine.
Despite many new boutiques, coffee shops, and art galleries coming to Stonington, the town’s economy still hinges on the lobster industry. The average Maine lobster fisherman makes $37,000 per year. You can see below how Stonington, ME would be an excellent location for lobstering.
Stonington, ME Google Maps screenshot by the author
Image by ScubaDC from Pixabay
Only the old diehard lobster fishermen still use these old wooden lobster traps. They're really difficult and expensive to maintain. Most have changed to the new-style traps made from plastic rather than wood and are recyclable. Of course, many have recycled the wooden traps into coffee tables and other household furnishings.
New style lobster trap by Richard Revel from Pixabay
Maine Lobstermen's Association leaders provided communication & coordination
Maine Lobstermen's Association’s executive director, Patrice McCarron, said, “The industry was certainly facing a lot of challenges, and fishermen purposefully slowed their effort down to keep pace with the market.”
It takes a lot of coordination and communications to get these fishermen on the same sheet. Many are independent and only worrying about making money for their families.
However, last year they were more selective about which days they went out, to keep from bringing in too many lobsters with low demand during the pandemic. But not only did the Association need to communicate with fishermen, but they also needed to find new markets since the problems with China trade during the Trump administration had closed off some of that trade.
China is a crucial market for Maine lobster fisherman, and although trade started to climb after then-POTUS Trump reached new deals, the Chinese had to manage a reduced economy last year as well.
Plus, the lobster industry confronted several other issues the past few years. New legislation to safeguard the North Atlantic whales imperiled the fishing industry, some say.
Many lobstermen also dig clams, rake mussels, and fish scallops to supplement their income but prefer hauling lobster traps.
One lobsterman with a YouTube channel, Leroy Weed, says, “We’re resilient people. We know how to take care of ourselves and make do with what we’ve got. You get good years and bad years.”
However, global warming has caused lobsters to move north so that southern New England has suffered much worse than Maine fishermen even though some of Maine’s crops have moved up into Canada. Maine and Canada often compete for lobsters.
Online sales and direct-to-home sales were more frequent than in years past. Many independent fishermen set up tanks and sales from their garage or home. Some say they sold lobster straight off the boat for the first time last year.
Lobster Fishing in Stonington, Maine
Visit the USA uploaded this video to YouTube. Like and subscribe you find it useful. “When you think of Maine, you think of Lobster,” says Virginia Olsen, a lobster fisherman from Stonington, Maine.
Stonington, ME Lobster boats by Matt Hardy from Pexels
Although the 2016 record haul of 132.6 million pounds of the succulent shellfish was still on the mind of many, most just wanted to stay afloat. The 96.6 million pounds caught helped many keep the bills paid. Lobstering is grueling physical labor, but most wouldn't change that. However, they, like many others, want to minimize government interference in their livelihood.