AUGUSTA — The Department of Marine Resources released its preliminary 2015 commercial fisheries landings Thursday night and the news was astonishing.
According to DMR, the value of Maine’s commercially harvested marine resources topped $600 million in overall value in 2015. The total, $631,768,531, is an all-time high and an increase of more than $33 million over the previous record set in 2014.
The largest single increase in value was in the state’s lobster fishery, which saw its total landed value jump by more than $37 million and the average per pound boat price increase by more than 10 percent, from $3.70 per pound in 2014 to $4.09 per pound last year.
At $495,433,635, the overall value of Maine’s lobster fishery set another record. Factoring in bonuses paid to harvesters as reported by 11 of Maine’s 19 lobster co-ops, the overall landed value of Maine’s lobster fishery reached $510,680,048.
Landings totaled 121,083,418 pounds, making last year the fourth year in a row, and the fourth year ever, in which Maine lobster harvesters hauled in more than 120 million pounds.
“Maine’s lobster fishery continues to be a major engine for our coastal economy,” DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in the landings announcement. “This past year saw a continuation of steady and historic lobster landings throughout the season. The increase in value reflects growing demand for Maine lobster.”
“While this year’s value and landings are great news for our coastal economy, we also recognize that lobster represents more than 81 percent of the overall value of our commercial fisheries,” Keliher said. “It shows that we all must be working hard to build and sustain our commercial fisheries and to create more diverse opportunity, be it with traditional commercial fisheries or an expanding the role of aquaculture.
“This work is critical to ensure we can adapt to changes in landings and value in future years.”
Maine’s softshell clam industry retained its second place standing in overall value at $22,536,086, a record for the fishery. The jump in value came on the strength of a 47-cent-per-pound increase over 2014. At $2.46 per pound, 2015 landings netted harvesters a 23 percent increase in per-pound value over 2014 despite a drop in landings of 1 million pounds.
At $2,171 per pound, Maine’s elver fishery was by far the most lucrative of Maine’s commercial fisheries on a per-pound basis. Despite a season in which landings were well below the state-authorized quota because of a cold, dry spring that slowed elver migration and challenged harvesting, the overall landed value increased by nearly $3 million to $11,422,381, That made the elver fishery the state’s fourth most lucrative behind herring, with landings valued at $13 million.