MLA will sponsor workshops to improve lobster handling



ELLSWORTH — The Maine Lobstermen’s Association, in coordination with the Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance, will hold a series of workshops focused on keeping lobsters healthy led by Canadian lobster health expert Jean Lavallée. With expectations of a particularly warm spring and summer, MLA wants to help Maine lobstermen ensure that their catches are well cared for both on the boat and on the dock.

“Dead lobsters aren’t worth anything. Weak lobsters aren’t worth enough,” said Patrice McCarron, MLA executive director. “Jean Lavallée is here to speak to lobstermen, sternmen, dockworkers, lobster buyers and anyone involved in the lobster fishery about simple, commonsense things we can do to keep lobsters healthy from the moment they come on the boat.”

Simply put, lobsters have weird physiology systems. A lobster’s stomach lies behind its head. Its heart is on its back. It has one nerve cord that travels along the bottom of the body. A lobster’s blood veins are not in a circuit like a human’s. Its heart pumps blood into ever smaller veins and capillaries which come to an end and then disperse blood through all the tissues. When a lobster is hurt, it will bleed easily. And it’s very easy to injure a lobster.

Everyone knows that lobsters thrive in cold water on the ocean floor. So, it’s not surprising that they get stressed out when they are taken out of the water. They particularly do not like to get warm.

“They are cold blooded, so if the environment gets warmer the lobster heart beats harder to move blood to the gills and dissipate heat,” Lavallée said.

Once a lobster gets stressed by heat or other factors, it begins to grow weak. Keeping lobsters as vigorous and healthy as possible from the moment they are hauled up in a trap adds dollars to the bottom line of both lobstermen and lobster buyers.

“Lavallée gave a short version of this workshop at the MLA Annual meeting in early March. The feedback from the industry was loud and clear — they wanted this guy back,” McCarron said.

Everyone involved in Maine’s lobster industry is strongly encouraged to attend the workshop to learn more about the unique biology and physiology of the lobster, and what they can do to keep Maine’s signature crustacean healthy and valuable.

Workshops are scheduled for each lobster management zone throughout the state. On Wednesday, April 20, the Zone C program will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Deer Isle-Stonington High School. The Zone B workshop is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Ellsworth High School auditorium. In Zone A, the workshop is set for Thursday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to noon in Powers Hall a the University of Maine-Machias.

Other workshops are scheduled in Kennebunk, Bath, Rockland and at the Bigelow Laboratory in Walpole.

Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. To register, email Antonina Pelletier at [email protected] or call the MLA at 967-4555.

The workshops are made possible with support from the state’s Research, Education and Development Fund and the Island Institute in Rockland.

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