PORTLAND, Maine (Reuters) - By all rights, lobsterman Steve Train should be the envy of commercial fishermen around the world.
Lobster populations in Maine are booming like never before. Tourists readily dole out $15 or more for lobster rolls, those delectable morsels of seafood on a bun. And environmentalists have praised the harvest as a rare example of sustainability in a sea of overfishing.
Enter market forces. Last year's record haul of 126 million pounds (57 million kg), double that of just a decade ago, led some to wonder whether lobster might go the way of cheap, everyday foods like the chicken nugget or TV dinner. Prices paid to lobstermen at the dock plummeted and have not recovered. They are barely enough, says Train, to cover fuel and bait.
"It's hard to make a business plan the way things are going," said the 46-year-old lobsterman, who has fished the island-studded waters of Casco Bay since he was a teenager.
Even as many of the world's fisheries have floundered, the Maine lobster harvest, recently certified as sustainable by the nonprofit Marine Stewardship Council, has reached epic proportions, but success is relative.
"I'm sure the corn farmer, or the wheat farmer, or chicken farmers all felt the same way at some point," said Pete Daley, a manager at Garbo Lobster Co in Hancock, Maine, one of the country's largest distributors. "People say, 'I'm not getting the price I used to get, or the price I deserve.' But what we're seeing here is an industry that's evolving."
National Fisherman Live: 12/16/14
In this episode, Bruce Buls, WorkBoat's technical editor, interviews Long Island lobsterman John Aldridge, who survived for 12 hours after falling overboard in the dead of night. Aldridge was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Pacific Marine Expo, which took place Nov. 19-21 in Seattle.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.