National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



It's been a dreary, rainy summer thus far here in Vacationland. That's not helping Maine lobstermen, who have had metaphorical clouds hanging over their heads for a couple of years.

The economy of course puts a damper on tourism, and the cold (the time and temperature building display outside my window says it's 63 degrees), wet weather isn't helping. And a lack of visitors eager to munch on Maine's signature seafood product isn't doing the lobster industry any good.

Meanwhile, lobstermen have undertaken a costly swap of floating rope for sinking rope to prevent the possibility of endangered northern right whales becoming ensnared in lobster gear. It's not just the initial cost of buying the new, pricier rope that's a problem. The sinking rope doesn't last as long, and can break if it gets hung up on rockier grounds. So gear replacement occurs more frequently, adding to lobstermen's overhead.

Add the global economic tailspin that sent consumer demand and dock prices tumbling to the list of lobstermen's woes. Heck, driving into work this week, I saw the following prices displayed at a local gas station:

Regular: $2.59
Premium: $2.79
Lobster: $2.99 a pound

I'm old enough to remember the days when you'd get items like glasses and dinnerware when you gassed up, but I don't ever recall being able to dip into the lobster tank while filling the gas tank. On the other hand, if you'll recall, we were paying more for a gallon of gas last summer than the gas station's customers are paying for lobster.

Here's hoping the lobstermen's woes are temporary, especially since the fishery has been the backbone of the Pine Tree State's fishing industry for so long. In the years prior to the recent economic downturn, lobstermen enjoyed record landings and healthy dock prices; chances are they'll do so again.

Until then, they're buckling down and weathering the storm as best they can. In every life, some rain must fall.

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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