The state of Maine’s 2023 preliminary numbers for commercial seafood landings were released on March 1, showing a significantly strong year for the industry. The state’s Department of Marine Resources (DMR) shows commercial fishermen earning $611,277,692 for the 204,684,775 pounds of seafood landed on state docks.

The earnings showed an increase of $25 million from the year before. Governor Janet Mills shared that “the Maine seafood industry continues to be a powerful economic engine for our state.”

The top three species landed in the state were lobster (46%), menhaden or pogies (12%), and seaweed (10%). 93,734,116 pounds of lobster were landed for a $461,371,720 value. The value represents what is paid at the docks to fishermen and the dollars that flow throughout the state's local economy. This showed about a $72 million increase.

DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher spoke at the Maine Lobstermen’s annual meeting and touched on how much lobster was landed in the state. He emphasized that Zone A brings in the highest total value of lobster, followed by Zone D.

From July to October, the value of landed lobsters held strong in 2023, ranging from over $70 million to over $84 million each month. The countries with the most active harvesters remain Washington and Hancock. The two industries with the most harvesters remain the lobster/crab fishery and the soft clam fishery.

The pounds of lobster were down, but the prices were up. In Winter Harbor, lobstermen who sell to the co-op saw good bonuses. Alex Polk, general manager of the lobster co-op, said that despite wharf repairs and a new generator being installed, “They seem to be happy. We were up slightly, year over year, 2022 to 2023.”

Based on the $2009 price per pound, the elver fishery brought in $19,508,478 to fishermen, making it the second most valuable species in 2023. However, obtaining an Elver license is not a simple task, and this year, 16 new licenses were offered in a lottery that closed on March 4.

The groundfish industry saw increased landings and a stable price due partly to investments DMR made in the Portland Fish Exchange, Vessel Services, and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association with Covid relief funds from NOAA Fisheries.

Governor Mills shared, “The dedication to sustainability and premium quality by our fishermen, aquaculturists, and dealers is a source of tremendous pride for everyone who calls Maine home.”

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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