Maine lobstermen still feel bait crisis pinch

The lobster bait crisis that plagued New England this summer is finally over, now that fishermen have begun to catch herring off Georges Bank.

But the price of lobstermen’s favorite bait fish, which rose dramatically when the offshore fleet wasn’t landing enough herring to refill empty bait freezers, has remained high through the end of peak lobster season, typically August through late October. Although there’s been no appreciable effect on consumer prices, lobstermen agree the shortage hurt their bottom line.

“Earlier this year, when prices were at their highest, I paid $170 for a barrel of herring and I usually pay about $110 for that same barrel,” said Jeff Putnam, a lobsterman out of Chebeague Island. “Like a lot of guys, I like to fish herring, but with prices like that, I turned to pogeys, but then pogey prices went up, too. Overall, I would say my bait costs are up 15 percent this year.”
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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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