Icy winter winds were whipping through the Northeast yesterday as I walked the show floor in Boston at Seafood Expo North America. So I was delighted to indulge in the classic summer treat of a fresh lobster roll made with Shucks of Maine flash-frozen lobster. The company, owned by John Hathaway (no relation), had on display an impressive array of retail and wholesale products featuring Maine’s signature seafood.
I’m happy to report that the roll looked and tasted like fresh summer lobster. This could be the start of a marketing revolution for Maine lobster, which has been hampered by unpredictable prices as a result of the challenges of a predominantly live-product market. What doesn’t go to restaurant and fishmonger lobster tanks once was shipped almost exclusively to Canada for processing. Hathaway is one of a few entrepreneurs determined to bring that industry back to Maine. Last year he processed about 4 million pounds and hopes to best that in 2014. So far, it sure tastes like a success.
A few hours before I found myself on the show floor, I kicked off the morning with the Center for Sustainable Fisheries board of directors — Dr. Brian Rothschild, former New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang and former Congressman Barney Frank — as we led our second national conference on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Many fishing communities across the country are desperate for some flexibility in the arbitrary rebuilding time lines and a commitment to improving science-based management. (See Melissa Wood’s piece, “Flexibility a must for Magnuson.”)
In the afternoon, Massachusetts’ Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) spoke to a National Seafood Marketing Coalition meeting about a bill he’s sponsoring to start an industry-funded marketing coalition that would promote seafood harvested in the commonwealth. Though the coalition would promote all types of seafood (including wild and farmed product), the fund was largely inspired by the drastic quota cuts that have affected the state’s groundfish fleets.
“No one can survive with a 77 percent reduction in the volume of their product,” said Tarr.
On Sunday evening the Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay hosted a reception during which Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association Executive Director Bob Waldrop announced that he’s stepping down after more than eight years of service to the association.
What’s next for Maine lobster, Magnuson, Massachusetts and Bristol Bay? Stay tuned.
In the meantime, enjoy this image of pure summer goodness.
Photos: Shucks of Maine lobster products; Jessica Hathaway