Cathy Billings, associate director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, retired Sept. 21 after serving 20 years.
Billings collaborated with the Lobster Institute directors — first Bob Bayer, and now Rick Wahle — to help build partnerships and networks of lobster harvesters, dealers, processors, government agencies and researchers in New England and Atlantic Canada.
“Her leadership contributed to the Lobster Institute’s reputation as a center of discovery, innovation and outreach dedicated to promoting, conducting and communicating research focused on the sustainability of the American lobster fishery,” according to a statement from the institute.
Billings distilled her knowledge of the industry into her 2014 book The Maine Lobster Industry: A History of Culture Conservation and Commerce, and wrote numerous grants to secure research funding and facilities support for Maine’s coastal economy.
As the institute’s outreach coordinator, Billings founded the first Canada-U.S. Lobster Town Meeting in 2004, a two-day annual meeting bringing together all sectors of the industry, scientists and policy makers from both sides of the border. The event now alternates between U.S. and Canadian venues.
She also organized the Lobster Institute’s annual holiday fundraiser dinner and saw the creation of Big Claw white wine, proceeds of which benefit the institute.
A graduate of UMaine with degrees in education and public administration, Billings says her career at the Lobster Institute wass "hands down, the best job I've ever had.”
“The men and women I've met in the lobster industry continually impress and amaze me with their work ethic, their knowledge and their commitment to making the lobster industry in Maine a model of sustainability and a heritage of which to be proud," said Billings.
In coming days the institute will be undertaking a search to fill the associate director position. More information about the institute is online at umaine.edu/lobsterinstitute.