Asian markets drive Maine lobster export boom

Maine’s lobster industry is on pace for its best year ever, having sold $103 million worth of lobster abroad in the first half of 2016.

That’s more than twice as much as the $48.3 million it sold over the same period in 2015, and is even better than in 2014, when Maine had sold $54.7 million worth of lobster by July and ended the year with a record $365.5 million in foreign sales.

State trade officials credit this year’s 113 percent jump in midyear exports to huge growth in Canadian sales, which is basically Maine helping to fill its neighbor’s global orders, and a 43 percent growth in exports to China.

That success isn’t a coincidence, said Jeff Bennett, a senior trade specialist at the Maine International Trade Center. While the industry has enjoyed record catches over the past few years, that alone doesn’t equal higher exports.

“The fishery itself has worked hard to establish itself as a sustainable one, and that goes a long way with consumers and buyers,” Bennett said. “And the dealers have really knocked themselves out building the Asian market.”

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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