BlogMaine Lobster Industry at a Glance: 2022 Edition
There are a few common thoughts that folks think about Maine before they arrive for the first time. They’re mostly along the lines of, “Isn’t Maine basically Canada?” “I hope I see a moose,” and, “I wonder, what does lobster actually taste like?” While those are very endearing, somewhat true stereotypes, I’m here to give you a rundown on everything you need to know about the lobster industry in 2022. As for the taste, you’ll have to come see that for yourself!
History of Maine Lobster Industry
In the last century or so, lobster has been considered a delicacy; in the 1800’s, however, it was a common prison food. William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Plantation, actually apologized to a new group of settlers because all he, “could presente their friends with was a lobster without bread or anything else but a cupp of fair water.” How did this prison food turn into one of Maine’s most well-known resources?
The exact rise of the lobster industry can most likely be attributed to John D. Rockefeller and family. After making his fortune, Rockefeller built a summer home on Mount Desert Island (home to Acadia National Park) and began inviting wealthy friends to his mansion. While there, he introduced his guests to a locally harvested sea creature, the lobster. Its popularity grew, and lobster pounds began popping up all over the coast.
The Lobster Industry Contributes to Maine Economy
From the 1800’s to now, Maine has become famous for this delicious crustacean and continues to be a leading producer of lobster across the world. The lobster industry is deeply tied into the state’s heritage and history; its effect on tourism cannot be denied. Thousands of folks from across the world come to enjoy a local delicacy in many spots dotting Maine’s coast. Lobster trinkets range from stuffed animals, stickers, keychains, jewelry, and more.
As for food, lobster can be found in its traditional form, the lobster roll, or more unique variants: lobster mac n’ cheese, lobster chowder, lobster-shaped lollipops, and even lobster ice cream.
Mainers take their favorite crustaceans VERY seriously. However, above all serious Mainah’s and their affinity for marine bottom feeders, there are the families that make their living from the bounty of Maine’s ocean. These families have most likely always been lobstermen and women. Kids grow up on boats, learning how to bait bags and haul traps. They either take over boats from their fathers and grandfathers, or they start on a boat of their own. They go to sleep early, wake up before the sun rises, and spend their days hauling traps. In mid-fall, they take their boats out of the water. With the arrival of winter comes days spent indoors, fixing and overhauling traps. Spring brings boat overhauls; sunny days are used to paint the hull and fiddle with the engine or electrical system.
The cycle of the lobster industry is almost as permanent and ingrained in Maine’s society as the seasons. Tourists come and go, but the routine of life as lobster families is one that is highly treasured and protected.
Prior to the 2022 Fishing Season
Their life, seemingly idyllic to some, has experienced a great shift in the last year. Much like every other sector in the state and across the country, inflation has taken a deep toll on the lobster industry. To accurately see the toll, we must take a look back to the summer of 2021.
Before inflation’s grisly effects could be seen, lobstermen and women experienced a record-breaking summer. Prices were sky-high for lobsters and prices for necessities had not changed much, if at all. Covid precautions were reduced, and folks felt much more comfortable traveling than they had in 2020. It was a productive year for the lobstermen, the lobster pounds, and restaurants and people were excited about it.
Challenges Amidst the 2022 Season
Enter 2022. In March, the lobster industry faced a lawsuit that had the potential to shut down a massive portion of the state’s lobster fishery. The justification? North Atlantic right whale populations are down and a variety of folks think lobster fishing is the reason why. This battle is still in legal proceedings.
In addition to that scare, the quota of herring (used for lobster bait) has lessened incrementally over the years. This year, it has been cut a total of 88%. Prices of bait, fuel, and equipment have sky-rocketed, and the price of lobster has taken a nose-dive. Most fishermen have severely cut down on the number of days they go out in a week. If they were to go out every day, they might not even be able to make a profit.
Living in a coastal community is hard at the moment. There’s a sort of dread that hangs off of lobster families. A variety of factors have made this season a very difficult one, but at the end of the day, Mainers are known for their resiliency. Through every trial thus far, they have proven to be strong and capable of handling whatever comes their way. These men and women are dedicated to their craft and have continued to be valuable assets to the Maine economy.
What We Offer
We at Box of Maine are incredibly proud of the heritage of our state. The Maine-made products and keepsakes we offer are made by people just like us. Highlighting their work is an awesome part of the job we love so much.
Eventually, we hope to figure out the logistics of how we can get fresh lobster into the hands of our customers. With the addition of a lot of extra space in our warehouse, we hope to be able to store and ship out a variety of local seafood. In the meantime, you can always find canned lobster meat, lobster chowder, and clam chowder on our website.
We look forward to providing you with a classic Maine experience, wherever you may be!