Written by Jen Finn
PORTLAND — A union representing thousands of Maine's shipbuilding and paper mill workers now has its sights set on lobstermen.
With promises to fight bad legislation and negotiate prices for their catch, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has been recruiting fishermen in some of Maine's most lobster-reliant communities, including Vinalhaven, Stonington and Jonesport. So far, more than 250 fishermen have signed up for what will be called the IAM Maine Lobstering Union.
The idea of lobstermen joining a labor union may be at odds with the traditional image of the self-reliant, independent lobsterman, said Riley Poole, who has joined the union. But with fishermen getting rock-bottom prices for their catch and expenses continuing to rise, lobstermen have to do something to preserve their way of life and Maine's traditional fishing communities, he said.
"I'm looking toward the future and if other people don't, they won't be able to continue being independent," said Poole, 29, a fourth-generation fisherman. "They'll have to get a job somewhere else or work on a corporate boat."
Others aren't so sure.
"I think commercial fishermen are fiercely independent, and to give up that independence to an organization without any experience in the industry would be a mistake," said Stonington lobsterman Genevieve Kurilec-McDonald.
Maine has more than 5,000 licensed lobstermen who account for about 85 percent of the U.S. harvest of North Atlantic lobsters, which are caught from roughly Maine to New Jersey.
With lobster prices on the decline in recent years, fishermen have struggled. Last year's prices — $2.69 a pound on average, the lowest price since 1994 — prompted Vinalhaven fisherman Magnus Lane to call up the machinists union in December in search of information.
Read the full story at the Portland Press Herald>>
National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15
In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.
National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15
In this episode:
March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received
The Gulf of Maine Research Institute is partnering with restaurants throughout the region for an Out of the Blue promotion of cape shark, also known as dogfish. Starting Friday, July 3 and running until Sunday, July 12, cape shark will be available at each participating restaurant during the 10-day event. Cape shark is abundant and well deserving of a wider market.
As a joint Gulf of Mexico states seafood marketing effort sails into the sunset, the program’s Marketing Director has left for a job in the private seafood sector. Joanne McNeely Zaritsky, the former Marketing Director of the Gulf State Marketing Coalition, has joined St. Petersburg, FL based domestic seafood processor Captain’s Fine Foods as its new business development director to promote its USA shrimp product line.