Written by Adrianne Madden
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Maine's lobster industry is finding interesting ways to connect with consumers.
For example, mid-coast Maine lobsterman Ryan Post has a Web site, Maine Buggin http://www.mainebuggin.com/. A fourth generation lobsterman, Post also stars in a new documentary, "Here's the Catch."
The film chronicles a year in the lobstering life of Post and his sternman, Jon Hill, working on Post's boat, the 40-foot Instigator. According to the Web site, the documentary was to premiere in June.
The site also showcases a series of podcasts about lobstering in Maine. Between the Web site, podcasts and documentary, Post is raising the profile of the industry (as well as his own), making lobstering more accessible to the average consumer. And an educated consumer may be more likely to plop down his hard earned cash on a lobster dinner.
The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine is taking the education approach one step further. After a five-year hiatus, it is reviving the Maine Lobster College. Come mid-September, tourists intrigued by the lobstering life can get an education on vacation and learn about bugs, bait, the business of lobstering and more. Tuition is $575 per person, not including lodging at the Kenniston Hill Inn Bed and Breakfast in Boothbay, which serves as the lobster college's "campus."
Moreover, participants will find out firsthand what it's like to haul traps, remove and measure the lobsters and band the bugs. Folks interested in enrolling can learn more at The Lobster Institute Web site http://www.lobsterinstitute.org.
Likewise, brothers John and Brendan Ready generated a buzz late last year with their buy-a-trap program. For $2,995 a year, customers buy the rights to all bugs caught in a designated trap.
"We've created a way to add more value to seafood," John Ready told the Associated Press last year. "This is our way of trying to hit a new market segment."
All of the above enterprises are adding value to the experience of buying seafood. Whether it's Maine lobster, Copper River salmon, or other seafood treats, such programs educate the public about their product, commercial fishing in general, and gain seafood attention that can translate into consumer demand — and additional income for fishermen.
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