L E T T E R S TO T H E E D I T O R
Here we are, looking at a new season for 2012. Reflecting a little about the previous year, we had a banner year for lobster! This was the biggest catch that we have had which tells me that our conservation measures must be working. Now, if we can continue to work on our marketing to get the price we need to “stay afloat.” Of course, with that many lobster, we need to strategize this concept all around. Overhead for the lobstermen’s needs to be covered while being able to move that kind of volume in an economy that has been hurting since 2008.
We have more processing in Maine than ever before, which is a good thing. It is much easier to have a lobster pot pie or Newburg that is ready for the oven at the end of a busy work day. This is also a convenient way to serve lobster on the cruise ships. “Convenience” is the key word now.
Now, please don’t get me wrong---there’s nothing better than sitting on a picnic table or a beach with a steamed lobster, plate full of clams and an ear of corn. That has got to be the big treat of the summer season for all of us, locals and tourists alike. This is the one meal that tourists come to Maine to enjoy. I’ve been told that they look forward to it for their return the following year. There is a special “aura” about taking a ride on a lobster boat and coming in for that shore dinner they’ve been anticipating.
We have a special subcommittee on the Lobster Advisory Council that I have the privilege to serve on. We are looking at very good marketing examples and hope to share this knowledge in the near future. This subcommittee is also working with the Maine Lobster Promotion Council.
We have representatives from the Downeast Lobstermen’s Association, Maine Lobstermen’s Association, the Department of Marine Resources and the Lobster Advisory Council.
Our association, D.E.L.A. unanimously endorsed our Commissioner, Pat Keliher. We congratulate him on his appointment by Governor LePage and look forward to working with him this year.
Yes, we did go to Governor LePage on July 7 to discuss our concerns about the past Commissioner, Norman Olsen. We had such a large turnout of concerned members and stood by our motto: “By the Fishermen for the Fishermen.” We have had our conservation measures in place for generations now and I believe that we are very proud of it. landing of by-catch lobster from a dragger’s net should not be allowed, period. We are not a special interest group with a copy machine!
As far as licenses and the entry system, noting my own circumstance, my dad, Corliss Holland passed away in November of 2011. He maintained his lobster license and worked on the boat until he was 87 years young. Dad had just turned 88 when he passed. His license went back into the pool along with a lot of others that also passed away this past year. At this point in time, with the average age of the lobsterman being approximately 55 years old, they are nearing retirement or passing away. This was predicted a few years ago and is now happening. Any hope for keeping my dad’s lobster license in our family is gone. This applies to other families as well that lost a loved one recently. Time can be a big factor when a system needs room for improvement. Please bring us your solutions with this reform. Let’s work on the solution, not the problem! We have been to the Marine Resource Committee twice with this license issue and had people say to me that they are there to shoot it down one more time. “Why?”
Let’s enter this season with the willingness to work together and keep our industry as healthy and strong as ever! We need to look to our next generation who are the future of our industry.
See you at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum!
Sheila Dassatt, Executive Director
Downeast Lobstermen’s Association