When Americans think of Maine, Lobsters are probably in the mix. Maine is known throughout the United States as the best source for these tasty crustaceans - there’s a reason why “Maine Lobster” is the seal of approval for lobster on out-of-state restaurant menus. Portland is part of this lobster craze, and the sight of lobster boats in Portland harbor is a view that is loved by tourists and locals alike. But what is Maine (and Portland’s) lobster industry really like?
The Biggest in the World
Maine has the largest lobster industry in the world. In 2014, a record year for Maine lobster, lobstermen caught 123.7 million pounds of lobster, yielding 456.9 million dollars. Maine regularly provides 80% of all U.S. lobster, and on good years this percentage can rise into the mid eighties. Maine’s huge lobster industry accounts for more than just the lobsters themselves. The lobster trade also accounts for 3 million lobster traps fielded by more than 5,000 licensed lobstermen and women. The industry is closely regulated, one of the most carefully watched fishing industries in the world. This is because lobsters are slow growing, and so certain rules must be followed if the population is to be maintained. For example, Lobster fishermen cannot bring back pregnant female lobsters or smaller, younger lobsters. Because both lobstermen and the government have a vested interest in maintaining this ancient Maine industry, - which dates back to the earliest settlement of North America by Europeans - the lobstermen and women co-regulate the fishing of lobster alongside the state government. This has lead to the creation of small councils of lobstermen who decide how “areas” of the lobster fishing community will handle their craft.
Portland’s Lobster Industry
As of 2014, Portland is one of the top three Maine ports for value of a vessel used in commercial fishing, according to the Department of Maine Resources. Cumberland County, which encompasses Portland and surrounding towns, accounted for 11,655,792 pounds of live lobster landings in 2014, and 45,962,864 dollars of value. While Cumberland country is not the center of lobster fishing in Maine, it accounts for a significant amount of the state lobster fishing total. Portland is home to several facilities that package lobster, and it features some of the best lobster-centric cuisine in the state. While Portland harbor may not be a state leader in the lobster industry, it is without question the destination for those looking to enjoy authentic Maine lobster served with style.
Do you enjoy learning ships and learning about the maritime industry? Are you a fan of seaside cuisine? Tall Ships Portland 2015 is the event for you! Featuring magnificent tall ships in Portland harbor from July 18-20th, this event will feature live presentations by those in the maritime field, and some of Portland’s best food. Tickets are on sale now!