With last year's glut of lobsters and plummeting prices still a vivid memory, Maine lobstermen are hatching strategies to cultivate new markets and more customers for the state's leading fishery.
Lobstermen expect another big harvest this year, but it's unclear whether it will begin early again, said Marianne La-Croix, acting director of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council, an industry-funded organization in Portland.
"Obviously," she said, "we don't want to be in the same situation" as last year, when the lobster harvest soared but prices for fishermen took a dive to their lowest point since the mid-1990s.
In 2012, the season for shedders – soft-shell lobsters – started four to five weeks early. That brought Maine and other U.S. fisheries into competition with Canada in late May and June, said Rick Wahle, research associate professor in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine.
Wahle said processors customarily handle the lobster harvest from Canadian waters, which occurs in the winter, well into May. When Maine's lobster season started more than a month early, there weren't enough buyers.
"The so-called glut brought the price down," Wahle said.
Even though the timing of the harvest didn't jibe completely with the processing demand, LaCroix said, all of the Maine lobster was marketed. "Not at the price everyone's happy with," she acknowledged, but it still was sold.
Within the next month, the Lobster Promotion Council and other lobstermen's organizations will begin mapping out specific plans to expand markets and broaden their customer base.
"With a little more preparation ... building a little bit of demand ... more processors will be on line earlier this year," LaCroix said.
The organization hopes to generate media attention to help consumers better understand pricing and accentuate the long history of the fishery, and the partnership between lobstermen and government.
Read the full story at the Portland Press Herald>>
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Over 500 lots of seafood processing equipment formerly owned by Adak Seafood will be sold at auction on Tuesday, June 18, starting at 10 a.m. Hawaiian-Aleutian Daylight Time at the Hilton Garden Inn in Anchorage Alaska.
The equipment is located in a recently updated 250,000 square foot state-of-the-art processing facility in Adak, Alaska. Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Hilco Industrial, which conducts 75 machinery and equipment auctions in a wide range of industries annually, will conduct the auction.
Adak Seafood opened originally as Ada Fisheries in Anchorage in 1986. The facility, updated in 2005, is located on the island of Adak, the southernmost city in Alaska near the western end of the Aleutian Islands. The facility processed cod primarily, as well as halibut, blackcod, crab and pollock, Hilco says.
Alaska fisherman and commercial fisheries activist Kevin Adams was elected chairman at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors meeting on May 9 in Anchorage.
The governor-appointed board consists of seven members: five seafood processors and two industry representatives actively engaged in commercial fishing. Adams was appointed to fill a harvester seat by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.
With 38 years of fishing experience in Bristol Bay, Adams has long been an active member in the Alaska fishing industry, ASMI says. He has worked for both the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association, and represents Alaska fishermen on numerous boards.