Lobster landings solid, boat price is up



FILE PHOTO

FILE PHOTO

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Fishermen are in high spirits this fall with the wholesale price of lobster at $4.40 per pound and landings almost keeping up with 2013’s record levels.

“We’ve been catching a lot for years now,” said David Horner of Southwest Harbor, Zone B council member and captain of the F/V Jennifer Lynn. “The significant difference is the price – the checks are a lot bigger.

“For the bulk of last year, we were selling for $2.40, and then it crept up to $3. Now, all of a sudden, we’re back up to where we were ten years ago.”

In the Ellsworth area last week, the retail price for small lobsters was $6.99 per pound.

Hancock County landed roughly a third of all the lobster in the state last year, totaling some 43.9 million pounds. Between 2012 and 2013 Hancock County enjoyed a jump in landings while the state total fell slightly. Total value both locally and statewide increased.

This will be a much better October for our local co-op,” said Swans Island fisherman Kenny Lemoine. “Probably the year’s end numbers for poundage will be a little below 2013. But the money is much better.”

In the spring, Department of Marine Resources lobster biologist Carl Wilson met with fishermen to provide updates on his research. Part of his job is to be on the lookout for trends that might affect the fishery. Last year, he said, “the resource was rolling,” so discussion of lobsters at DMR focused on economic and regulatory, not scientific concerns.

This year, Wilson’s team has noticed trends that may point to a leveling off of the lobster population, at least in some areas, during some life stages. The survey that tracks lobster “settlement,” when juvenile lobsters drop to the sea floor, is down for the third year in a row. This leads them to predict a drop in landings, but when and how big are unclear.

DMR is working with lobstermen on a fishery management plan, which they hope will help the industry respond to such changes early enough to avoid economic upheaval.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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