National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

lincIn Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.

 

The old saw is that there’s strength in numbers. Unfortunately the strong numbers of lobsters filling Maine harvesters’ traps have led to weak prices.

A glut of bugs in Maine has driven dock prices down into the $2 per pound range this year. Crustacean Nation enjoyed a mild winter and began its shedding process early this year. Since soft-shelled lobsters don’t ship well, they end up being sold to processors for a lower price then their hard-shell counterparts command in live markets.

Which triggered another problem. The volume of low-priced Maine lobsters being sold to New Brunswick processors is angering Canadian harvesters, because the inexpensive Maine product is lowering the price they receive.

The low prices sparked protests and blockades of the U.S. product being delivered to Canadian processors. The situation grew heated enough that only a court-ordered 10-day injunction has cooled things off for now.

Even the politicians have gotten involved. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) was asking Canadian authorities to provide police escorts to trucks delivering Maine lobster to Canadian processors, and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was calling for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to get involved in negotiations.

Is there a silver lining to the lobster woes? Perhaps. The problems have rekindled discussions of the need to bolster Maine lobster’s marketing efforts and whether ways can be found to improve the state’s processing capacity. Such discussion, if it leads to action, could help ward off similar woes in the future.

And in an effort that could help improve lobstermen’s situation now, Maine’s Lobster Promotion Council this month kicked off a Lobster Lovers Celebration campaign that will continue through November. It’ll feature lobster specials at participating restaurants, cash mobs, contests, giveaways and special prizes.

But it also won’t hurt if harvesters’ traps fill with hard-shell lobsters this fall and consumers continue indulging in this tasty treat through the holidays. And lobstermen will appreciate it if Old Man Winter introduces enough of a chill in the air to bring water temperatures back to normal in anticipation of a better 2013.

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14

In this episode:

NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first

 

Inside the Industry

EAST SAND ISLAND, Oregon—Alexa Piggott is crawling through a dark, dusty, narrow tunnel on this 62-acre island at the mouth of the Columbia River. On the ground above her head sit thousands of seabirds. Piggott, a crew leader with Bird Research Northwest, is headed for an observation blind from which she'll be able to count them.
 
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NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.

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