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October 25, 2008

Maine Lobster in Troubled Waters

In light of the current downturn in Maine’s lobster industry, I spoke with a local fisherman to get his take on the situation. Captain Gary Libby is a groundfisherman who also lobsters out of Port Clyde. His thoughts:

“It’s very alarming that the number one fishing industry in our state has fallen on awful economic times at a time of year when the lobstermen make most of their income.

“The people who have come to rely on this natural resource for their
livelihood are very hard working people, and are calling on their
friends and neighbors to help by taking the first step: by buying and
eating this great natural product. With all the additives in our foods
today, more people should be aware of the excellent protein source
right off our coast. To support these men and women at this time would
be a great help to our state's economy.

“I am a fisherman. I lobster and fish for groundfish, and both of
these fisheries need help. The groundfish part of my business has
gotten help from the community through a CSF, which stands for Community Supported Fishery.
Folks who participated in the program this past summer have helped the
local fishing fleet, and I think this same model could be used for
lobster. But there isn't time to set up a client base, so the best
thing the public can do right now to help in these rough economic times
is to buy lobster either directly from a fisherman or from a local fish
market. A few of the big lobster dealers may even sell lobsters at good

“So please help our fishing communities by supporting your local fisherman.”

I’m trying to do my part. In the past week,
I have ordered salt roasted lobster, lobster salad, and a lobster BLT
from various local restaurants. The restaurants could do more by
passing the low lobster prices on to their customers, which would
stimulate more orders. If they can buy lobster for $4.00/pound, why is
a lobster sandwich still $16.95?

Merrill Williams is the publisher of Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.


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