In the five years since Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher took on the agency's leadership, he and his team have played a central role in making the state's commercial fishing industry stronger.

The industry reached an all-time high in value in 2015, earning harvesters just over $616.55 million, a gain of $33 million over the previous record set in 2014. With the economic impact on dealers and related business, the industry has an overall value of closer to $2 billion. Maine products range from the flagship lobster to the elver, or baby eel, which fetched $1,435 a pound in the recent season.

Mainebiz recently talked with Keliher about some of the challenges facing the state's commercial fishing industry. An edited transcript follows.

Mainebiz: What are today's pressing concerns for the industry?

Pat Keliher: The changing ocean environment is a major challenge. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine are rising and, while it's been associated with the presence of new commercial species like black sea bass, it's also been linked to invasive species like green crabs, the decline of species like shrimp and a shift of Maine's lobster resource up the coast. I'd say that challenge is only going to grow.

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