News Feature

Augusta
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 9, 2017
Led by lobster, Maine’s 2016 commercial fishery tops $700M
Zone C nets $133M

Maine’s 2016 commercial fishery

Nearly $100 million more dollars came into Maine in 2016 as a result of its commercial fisheries, topping $700 million in value across all its fishing ports.

Penobscot Bay Press file photo

by Faith DeAmbrose

Nearly $100 million more dollars came into Maine in 2016 as a result of its commercial fisheries, topping $700 million in value across all its fishing ports. Numbers specific to Stonington were not available by press time, but for the last five years the port has held steady as the top-grossing port statewide, beating its next nearest competitor by about $20 million.

The Maine Department of Resources released its 2016 preliminary fisheries data on March 3 and “for the second straight year, the largest single increase in value was in Maine’s lobster fishery. The fishery saw the overall landed value jump by more than $30 million while the average per pound value remained over $4 for the second year in a row, at $4.07,” according to information provide by the DMR.

The lobster fishery, harvesting across its eight zones, was valued at $533,094,366. When factoring in bonuses paid to harvesters as reported by 14 of Maine’s 19 lobster co-ops, the overall landed value of the fishery reached $547,249,010.

In Zone C, which roughly covers the area from Stonington to Trenton, preliminary data shows that 33,508,085 pounds of lobster with a total value of $133,558,378 were harvested in 2016.

“The historic landings reflect the hard work of our harvesters to build and sustain this fishery,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “The exceptional value is the result of growing demand by consumers who appreciate both the quality of Maine lobster and the long-standing commitment to sustainable harvesting practices that characterize this fishery.

“At $19,019,337, Atlantic herring, the primary bait source for Maine’s lobster industry, saw an increase in value over 2015 of more than $5 million. The dollar amount ranked it as Maine’s second most valuable fishery, despite a nearly 11 percent decline in landings. “Overall herring landings declined in 2016 as a result of a lack of fish off-shore, resulting in demand that far surpassed supply,” said Commissioner Keliher.

Maine’s softshell clam industry dropped from second place in 2015 to third in 2016 with an overall value of $15,656,386. The decline in overall value reflected a 13.4 percent decline in per pound value as well as a 20 percent decline in pounds landed.

“One significant factor that contributed to the decline in softshell clam landings was a closure of harvest areas between the Canadian border and Mount Desert Island associated with Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) late in the season,” Kohl Kanwit, director of the DMR Bureau of Public Health, said in a news release. While the closure was minimized as much as possible through rigorous testing, many areas were closed for two to four weeks to ensure public health and safety.

“Maine’s elver fishery was again by-far the most lucrative of Maine’s commercial fisheries on a per pound basis at $1,430.51 a pound. Maine harvesters netted 9,400 of the 9,688 available pounds of quota for an overall value of $13,446,828, an increase of more than $2 million from the previous year. The overall value ranked the elver fishery as Maine’s fourth highest,” according to DMR data.

More landings data can be found at maine.gov/dmr/commercial-fishing/.