Center for Biological Diversity

The population of the endangered North Atlantic right whale took a big hit last year with a record number found dead in Canadian waters from ship strikes and entanglements. With this year's calving season ending and no new births observed, an ongoing debate over whether Maine's lobster industry poses a mortal threat to the species is gaining new urgency.

NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts - Federal fishing regulators are soliciting public comments about possible changes to lobster fishing in southern New England.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking the feedback about changes that could include restricting the number of lobster traps or permits an individual or a business would be allowed to own.

From the Bow Seat archival image

Maine Public TV Air Times:
Thur., October 5 at 10:00 pm
Sat., October 7 at 11:00 am

This documentary film explores environmental issues impacting the Gulf of Maine: topography; history, including depletion of cod stocks, puffin seabird restoration; and sustainable lobstering. The film follows the fimmaker and her family on a week's cruise along the Maine coast interviewing experts such as Colin Woodard, the author of The Lobster Coast, Stephen Kress (from Project Puffin), Diane Cowan (lobster conservationist), Sherm Stanley and Foy Brown, two longtime lobstermen and Carl Wilson a lobster biologist from the DMR and get a first hand look at their project sites along the coast.

US Lobster Industry Fearful of Canada's Approval of EU Pact

May 18, 2017
Tom Porter / Maine Public/file

PORTLAND, Maine - Members of the U.S. seafood industry are fearful that Canada's approval of a new trade deal with the European Union will cause problems for the American lobster business, just as catch is hitting historic highs.
The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act cleared its final hurdle in the Parliament of Canada on Tuesday. The deal gets rid of tariffs on Canadian lobster exports to the 28-nation bloc, putting Canada at a huge advantage.

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - A plan to try to stem the decline of the southern New England lobster population is coming up for a vote in front of an interstate regulatory board.
The population of lobsters off of Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts has declined as waters have warmed.
Fishing managers have considered tools like trap reductions and seasonal closures to try to preserve the population. They also have talked about the possibility of changing the legal harvesting size for lobsters.

PORTLAND, Maine - Interstate fishing regulators could select new restrictions for the declining southern New England lobster fishery by May.
Lobster fishing is experiencing a boom, and prices have also been high. But the species has dwindled in the waters off southern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, where it was once plentiful.

A sternman holds a lobster caught off South Bristol, Maine.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

The LePage administration wants to jack up fees for commercial fishing licenses. Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher says the revenues would go into research, and meet the governor’s directive for a flat budget.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press file

A $2-million-a-year investment by the state into a targeted lobster promotion effort paid off big for the industry last year, according to the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, which launched an aggressive campaign to boost soft-shell lobster sales.

Matt Jacobson, executive director at the collaborative, says a new report on the marketing campaign revealed that the initiative was responsible for 1 billion earned social media impressions — and some surprising new takes on serving lobsters.

A Spruce Head fisherman is facing penalties of up to $500 and the suspension of his harvester’s license after state marine patrol officers charged him with fishing beyond his trap limit. Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the state Department of Marine Resources, says fifty-two year old Brian Tarbox was only licensed to fish with 800 traps when he was stopped by marine patrol officers.

Usually a Maine lobsterman can choose to either fish or cut bait, but as the result of a herring shortage, neither may be an option for awhile. Local lobster co-op managers say fishermen may have to pay more for imported frozen bait from New Brunswick until the herring spawning season ends and stocks return to normal levels off the Georges Bank. In the meantime, new state harvest restrictions for herring fishermen may also be implemented.

American lobster

Maine Public TV Air Times:
Thur., Aug. 4 at 10:30 pm
Sat., Aug. 6 at 11:30 am

This short documentary offers a rare insider's glimpse into the world of lobstering on Monhegan Island with lobsterman, Doug Boynton.

On the Edge still

Maine Public TV Air Time:
Sunday, July 10 at 4:00 pm

This documentary tells the story of lobster-fishing communities on Maine's year-round islands. At the turn of the last century, there were 300 inhabited, unbridged islands in Maine; now there are 15. At present the lobsters are plentiful, but islanders worry about the future of the fishery and the realities faced by their children and grandchildren.

Tom Porter / MPBN

A warm winter has Maine’s lobster industry bracing for an early start to the spring molting season.

Scientists say it is likely to start earlier than the norm, but they don’t expect a repeat of the 2012 season, when a record glut of soft-shell lobster kept prices low and hurt lobstermen.

But some in the industry have made strategic investments designed to offset the effects of any potential overabundance of supply.

Tom Porter / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - A legislative committee has voted unanimously in favor of a measure that would make the lobster the state crustacean.

The bill was introduced on behalf of a third-grade class at Brewer Community School. Ninety-nine of the students made the trip to Augusta and got a first hand look at how the state lawmaking process works.

One third grader, who identified herself as Natalie, presented testimony to the State and Local Government Committee.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine officials say the state's lifeblood commercial fishing industry once again broke records for the value of marine species at the dock in 2015.

Fishermen in the state topped $631 million with their catch last year, surpassing the previous year's total by more than $33 million and topping $600 million for the first time. Last year's total catch also broke previous records.

Lobsters constituted more than three-quarters of the total value at more than $495 million, a record for the state's signature item.