News Feature

Web exclusive, March 1, 2019
Stonington remains top port in 2018
Landings, ex-vessel value up state-wide

Stonington lobster landings

Stonington remains the top commercial port in ex-vessel value, according to preliminary 2018 data released March 1 by the Department of Marine Resources, with lobster landings up from last year but still below 2016's record year.

Penobscot Bay Press file photo

by Anne Berleant

After a 16 percent drop in 2017, commercial lobster landings and value rebounded in Maine in 2018, bringing in 119,640,379 pounds of lobster for $484,543,633 in ex-vessel value.

An increase in boat price, from $3.92 per-pound in 2017 to $4.05 in 2018, helped drive the over $46 million increase in lobster landing value in Maine, which totaled $637,174,944, according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Marine Resources on March 1.

While the data is an improvement over 2017, lobster landings are still below the 132,616,424 million pounds harvested in 2016, the best year on record.

Stonington, in its usual spot as the top commercial port in Maine, landed $59.6 million worth of seafood in ex-vessel value, a relatively small hike from the $55.9 million of landings in 2017. Vinalhaven was the second-highest port state wide, landing $37.88 million in ex-vessel value, followed by Portland with $35.5 million. Friendship, with $24.1 million in landings and Beals, with $23.5 million round out the top five Maine ports.

Zone C, which includes the Stonington port, also saw the largest lobster landings in pounds and value, landing 29,057,137 pounds for an ex-vessel value of $116,482,342, higher than last year but still about 4.5 million pounds less than in 2016.

Across all Maine fisheries, Atlantic herring landings—the traditional lobster trap bait used by fishermen—continued to drop, with 61,782,103 pounds landed in 2018, a 5.5 percent drop from 2017. Five years ago, Maine landed 103,529,863 pounds of the popular lobster trap bait, underscoring the bait shortage facing commercial lobstermen, and the limits inter-state fisheries regulatory agencies have imposed in recent years. Crab landings saw a slight increase of nearly 79,000 pounds, while hard clam landings increased well over 500,000 pounds and elver landings dropped slightly by 152 pounds to 9,191total landings.

“Maine’s commercial fishing industries remain a critically important driver for our state’s economy and identity,” Said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “However, there are challenges we must tackle to sustain our marine resources and communities they support.”

Keliher pointed to the “changing Gulf of Maine,” bait shortages and whale rules as issues the Maine commercial fishery faces.

“Working directly with these industries to find creative solutions that maintain their economic viability remains the focus of the Mills Administration,” Keliher said.

Governor Janet Mills praised the “dedication and sacrifices of the men and women who work on the water and those who make sure this quality product gets to market” for the success of the state fishing industry.

The best seafood in the world comes from Maine,” Mills said. “This industry is the cornerstone of Maine’s coastal economy.”