Vol. 13, No. 12 - December 2008 News & Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine      SUBSCRIBE NOW!!
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Banks Urge Loan Talks
by Laurie Schreiber

Financial institutions are coming out in force to help the lobster industry get through lean times.

Basically, it just makes good economic sense, for the entire state, to make sure this important industry stays afloat. And bankers understand that means helping individual lobstermen and their families.

That’s the message coming from the finance subcommittee of the Governor’s Task Force on the Economic Sustainability of Maine’s Lobster Industry, which was set up just a couple of weeks ago to review the industry and recommend to the governor and Legislature, by April 15, 2009, specific strategies to help maintain its viability.

“The lobster industry – including the fishermen, dealers, processors and associated businesses – is absolutely crucial to Maine’s economy and heritage,” said Governor John Baldacci. “We must make a thorough review of the industry in light of the current global economic, financial and energy challenges in order to ensure its long-term sustainability.”

The task force divided up into three subcommittees. The finance committee will address short-term financial impacts on fishermen. The processing and capacity committee will explore the processing sector in Canada and the potential for processing in Maine. A third committee will look into the promotion of Maine lobster.


The biggest point made by all the finance peoplewas that, if lobster fishermen are having trouble making payments on theirloans, they should talk with their lenders. “If you’re a good customer of your bank, they’ll probably be agreeable to working with you, and we can help banks do that,” said Rob Small, a commercial loan officer with the Finance Authority of Maine (rsmall@famemaine.com, 800-228-3734). Chessie Johnson photo

New Boat, No Payments
by Mike Crowe

Building a lobster boat today usually means going to a bank, taking out a loan, and arranging with a builder to build it, and sometimes arranging with another boat builder to finish the hull. Getting the loan may mean putting up a home for collateral, picking out an engine, a prop and a long list of equipment that goes into building a modern lobster boat. The result is often a boat worth more than the house put up to back the loan.

Not that long ago, before the fiberglass lobster boat, which would be in the 1960’s, there were more boat builders and building a boat was less likely to involve a bank. It was more likely to involve the owner’s sweat equity in some way, maybe a builder who was a neighbor, a relative, or friend. The project sometimes involved family and usually resulted in a more manageable price tag.


One of a Kind. The 43' wood lobster boat built by owner and fisherman Danny Backman being launched at Winter Harbor October, 2008. Fishermen building their own wooden boats has become very rare. From a boat building family, Backman took the lines off one of the boats his grandfather Otto built. Photo by Bernice Johnson