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Generations of Maine Lobster Fishermen

Meet Captain Alex!

Generations of lobster fishermen are the norm, as the ‘art of fishing lobster’ is handed down through families in Maine.  Alex’s license came from his great grandfather, when he was just 6 years old, and at the time it was an open fishery.  Today with a waiting list for licenses, the Maine apprenticeship program allows children to bypass the list if they complete the program and apply for a license by age 18.   Alex’s two sons, age 12 and 15, are now in the program and also have their own lobster boat.

“It’s just in the blood.”  With a long lineage and family network of maritime fisherman, Alex’s own father hauled lobster and several other species to make ends meet. He would sell herring to the local factory and return home with canned sardines for Alex to use as lobster bait. For generations of families, lobster can be a true love affair.

Learn more about the Maine lobsterman – Loves what he does

Captain John, Lobster Fisherman

A father of five, John is quick to say he choose the simple life but the “ simple life is not so simple.”  His family and lobster business keep him extremely busy.  As an active lobster fisherman, John is also the President of a marketing co-op called Calendar Islands.  It’s rare to see John without a smile, his love for life is written all over his face.

John is one of the lobster fishermen with independent lobster boats who make up Calendar Island’s co-op.  Each of the lobstermen owns a piece of the company providing ownership of the process from boat to plate.  Calendar Islands helps to turn the lobster caught by John and his fellow fishermen into gourmet, ready-to-eat lobster delights found in local USA supermarkets.

It’s True – Fishing Lobster in Boston Harbor

Meet Captain Steve

As President of Boston Harbor’s Lobstermen’s Association and a weekend warrior selling lobster direct from the wharf, this lobster fisherman is quoted as saying, “If I fail in life it will be my own doing.” Watching him sell lobster to long lines of consumers on a Saturday afternoon (from the back of his boat), there is no doubt he is committed to making lobster a true living and passion. The day we visited him at the dock, he was assisted by his wife and two daughters. A true family effort.

One of the unique aspects of Steve’s lobster fishing in Boston Harbor is the fact that he can’t use buoys to mark his traps. Instead he locates his lobster traps through GPS tracking and then hoists them up by a long heavy grapple hook. Watching this process can make your arms “ache”.

Newport RI Sternman – View the Lobster Boats

Catching the Lobster on Our Plates

Brad has been helping lobster boat Captain Lanny for three years. With his wife working a few hundred feet away in the Newport Lobster Shack, Brad is part of an effort to sell lobster fresh from the boat. The shack is part of a co-op made up of independently owned lobstermen who sell their catch directly to hungry lobster lovers!  The “shack” is just that situated on Pier 9 in scenic downtown Newport.  This is the place to see some lobster boats up close, with marine vessels of all sizes and plenty of seagulls in the air.

In order to provide a steady stream of lobster for consumers to enjoy, Brad and fellow lobster fishermen are up in the morning around 4 am to start work. The delicious end result is the option to purchase live lobster to make at home or to enjoy steamed with drawn butter on rustic picnic tables nearby.

Why we love it:  Grab an overstuffed lobster roll at the shack and enjoy while checking out the lobster boats.  Be on the lookout for Brad!

Fresh Facts:

Meet Jarrett in New Bedford – The State’s Largest Seafood Port!

Started Lobster Fishing as a Young Teen

Having worked on lobster boats since he was 13, Jarrett has spent almost thirty years in the business. Like lobster fishermen along the Atlantic coast, Jarrett has a ton of heart for the business and life. His boat Cynthia Lee is named after his wife.

As a second-generation fisherman in Massachusetts, Jarrett plays an active role in the state’s ongoing lobster legislation. He keeps his boat in New Bedford Harbor, which remains the largest fishing port in the United States.  New Bedford boasts fish landings values at approximately $369 million (of which lobster plays a part).

Yes it’s totally true, women do fish lobster!

Yes there are women who fish lobster! Lori catches out of the Malpeque area that is also world famous for oysters. The first one in her family to be a lobster fisher, she decided to strike out on her own, after working three years on her husband’s boat. She now captains her own boat successfully. During our visit with Lori and her husband on the island, he stated quite honestly “she does it better than me.”

Her boat’s name Southern Lady is fitting for this PEI native, who grew up on an island farm. This soft-spoken female lobster fisher works incredibly hard, but always with a smile. When not catching lobster, she is working getting ready for the next season.

Meet This Lobsterman from Chatham

Most lobster fishermen come from families of fishers, but not our lobster hero Kurt.

He decided to fish lobster at an early age and today hauls impressive amounts from a scenic mid Cape Cod location. Kurt ties up near the Chatham Municipal Fish Pier, a virtual fish lover’s haven where local and tourists alike watch day boats unload their catch of fish and lobster.

Aptly named Time Bandit, Kurt’s lobster boat helps to haul a mix of wood and metal traps (a rarity in Massachusetts). Due to the sandy bottom vs. a rockier coast outside the cape, he believes the wooden traps perform better in the more shallow waters. During the colder winter months, Kurt actually makes his own wooden traps in preparation for the busy fishing season.

 

Prince Edward Island – Lobstering through early 80’s

In her early 80’s, lobster fisher Anna repaired lobster traps and was still fishing until her passing in winter of 2015.

“I was out last year and we’ll see what happens this year”, Anna had told us with a chuckle. Fishing since the mid 1970’s, she previously fished with her late husband Buddy. Having sold her fishing gear to her son Roy, he will now carry on the long-standing family tradition.

Anna holds a special place in the island’s legal history of lobster. She can be credited with ensuring women equal rights to claim insurance (when working side by side as a married couple on the boat). She helped bring change to PEI’s legislation, which now allows the wife of a lobster boat captain to be seen as a separate working entity under the law.

Captain Anna • M/V Gypsy Rover I • Savage Harbour, Prince Edward Island

Take a drive to Beals Maine – Lobster fishing inspiration!

Beals Island is a very quaint place to visit and see lobster fishermen in action!  One such lobsterman in this small town is Sonny Beal who makes a living catching lobster.  Sonny and his family are descendants of the original Beals who settled Beals Island.  His boat is named after his mother and he has two sons. When asked if his sons will become lobster fishermen someday, Sonny is insistent they are going to college. The jury is still out.

With a total area of 48.33 square miles, Beals is like most New England towns and boasts big character. The area is part of a tradition called “lobster boat races” and Sonny is a very active participant. Lobster boat racing involves lobster fishermen racing their boats along a watered “drag strip” in town harbors.  Whether you take a ride over the bridge from Jonesport to Beals for races or sightseeing – its a beautiful place to visit.

Why we love it:  You have to drive through unspoiled Jonesport, home to one of Down East’s largest lobster fleets.  Jonesport has  gift shops, take out restaurants, and a sardine museum.

Meet Captain Todd – A Plymouth Lobster Fisherman

A 3 a.m. Wake Up Call

With a 3 a.m. wake up call, Todd moors in Plymouth Harbor.  He arrives at the boat by 4 a.m. and then steams 2 hours out to sea, to reach his traps.  For anyone via land or sea, it’s a very long commute.

Todd is used to hard work, and gained his first boat for $20 bucks.  He found the boat  buried in the snow after the Blizzard of 1978.  Much has changed since then, but Todd has always loved the sea.  Quoting his father, “Some people hear the mermaid, and some people don’t.”  Todd is one of those people, and claims that catching lobster on a snowy day is one of the most beautiful and peaceful times to fish.

Today, Todd has a large boat and that means big overhead.  His vessel burns 80 gallons a day in gas and the cost of maintaining his boat and gear continues to rise.  Despite economic conditions, Todd continues to fish lobster for a living and can’t imagine doing anything else.