Maine’s lobster industry had a record catch last year, although the large catch was offset by low lobster prices.
But in this region there is concern over the impact the Maine lobster industry is having on prices here. And in Maine there is also concern with the supply as it relates to demand.
The Department of Marine Resources says in 2012 more than 123 million pounds of lobster were landed for a total value of around $331 million. The record catch represented an increase of 18 million pounds from 2011. However, because prices paid to fishermen were down the Maine lobster industry saw a decrease in value of $3.7 million compared to 2011.
With some dealer reports still outstanding, the current numbers are incomplete, and therefore are considered preliminary. The department will issue an updated report by late February.
“This unprecedented preliminary landings report provides us with both an opportunity and a challenge,” said Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “We need to look closely at this abundant resource and address the challenges presented when supply exceeds demand, as it did this past year, resulting in a decreased overall value which affects the entire industry. To put this into perspective, in 2005, the industry landed 70 million pounds for $320 million.
“We will be seeking input into the development of management measures that respond to abundant supply and its adverse impact statewide on boat price, particularly in the summer months,” added the commissioner. “These issues are a big part of the dialogue I will be having with industry over the next month during a series of public meetings.”
The 2011 lobster landings of 104,887,598 pounds with a value of $334,690,345 were at the time the highest lobster landings and value ever recorded since DMR and National Marine Fisheries Service began keeping records. At that time, the pounds and value increased from 2010 levels by more than 8.6 million pounds and $15.7 million.
For reference, 2010 landings were 96,208,807 pounds with a value of $318,891,777.
In January 2008, DMR began collecting detailed trip level records from dealers. According to the information reported to date, there were 4,345 active commercial lobster harvesters out of the 5,961 commercial license holders in 2011.