Riverdale Mills founder dies

At the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, the Friendship Trap Co. exhibits lobster traps built using Aquamesh plastic-coated wire.

ELLSWORTH — James Knott, the founder of Riverdale Mills Corp., died at his home in Witinsville, Mass., on Thursday, Aug. 16, according to several published reports.

Knott is credited as the inventor of the plastic-coated-wire lobster trap that revolutionized Maine’s lobster fishery. He was 88.

According to Riverdale, in 1980 Knott introduced the plastic-coated mesh wire especially designed for use in the ocean and sold under the trade name Aquamesh.

Today, according to some estimates, Aquamesh is used to build 85 percent of the traps used in the North American lobster industry.

In a statement, Robert Bayer, executive director of the University of Maine Lobster Institute, said, “Jim Knott was a well-respected visionary and an ardent supporter of the lobster industry. His impact cannot be understated.”

On its website, Riverdale says that Knott, a Gloucester, Mass., native, “pioneered a manufacturing process which combines galvanized welding and a PVC coating” for use in lobster traps. Before he developed Aquamesh, virtually all lobster traps were built of wood and required lobstermen to spend countless hours, and lots of money, to build new traps or repair damaged gear.

“The changes he introduced to lobster fishing in Maine and throughout North America were profoundly significant,” Bayer said. “He singlehandedly changed and bettered the way of life for so many people.”

Riverdale Mills continues to manufacture Aquamesh for lobster traps and other uses at its factory in Northbridge, Mass., with Knott’s son, James M. Knott Jr., as chief executive officer.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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