News Feature

Stonington
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 3, 2013
State of Maine’s lobster marketing plan now law
Plan to be paid for by increased license fees

by Jessica Brophy

After more than a year of discussion, debate and finagling, the lobster marketing plan first approved by the Lobster Advisory Council in August of 2012 is now law.

Governor Paul LePage signed the bill, LD 486, into law in late June. The bill goes “a long way toward ensuring that hard-working Maine lobstermen and the communities they support can benefit from this abundant fishery,” said LePage in a Maine Department of Marine Resources press release.

The plan will replace the Maine Lobster Promotion Council with a new entity, the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. The MLMC will oversee a budget of a little more than $2 million, to be spent on generic marketing and promotion of Maine lobster.

The marketing bill “is designed to fund an aggressive marketing program that will highlight lobster’s many unique attributes, including sustainability of the harvest,” said the press release.

The plan will be paid for through fees on licenses for fishermen, dealers and processors. The surcharge for this year for a class III license is $93.75; in 2014 it will be $160.75, in 2015 $320.75 and in 2016-2018 the surcharge will be $480.75.

For dealers, the 2013 fee starts at $250 and scales up to as much as $3000, depending on the number of supplemental wholesale seafood licenses or lobster transportation licenses held.

For processors, the fee is split into a two-tier system for those processing less than 1 million pounds and those processing more: for 2013, those under 1 million pounds will pay $333 and those over a million pounds will pay $1,333. That fee eventually scales up to $1,000 for those who process under a million pounds, and $4,000 for those who process more than a million.

“The lobster resource here in Maine is the strongest it has ever been thanks [to] conservation measures that have been developed and support[ed] by industry,” said Patrick Keliher, Commissioner of the DMR. “This tremendous supply has posed a challenge and an opportunity to create new markets, both here in the U.S. and overseas.”