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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.

It’s a Family Affair on Scenic Orr’s Island, Maine

Meet Captain Chuck!

Lobster fishing is a way of life and often a family affair.  On Orr’s Island, which is connected to another larger island by bridge, Chuck has a mother, wife and 2 daughters that work at the local island restaurant (serving countless lobster rolls to locals and tourists alike.)  This family involvement of several, if not all family members, in the business of lobster, can be witnessed among hundreds of ocean harbors along the eastern seaboard.   Local employment is driven by fisheries, and in this delicious case, the wild caught fishery of lobster.

Chuck, like many lobster fishermen is found selling a portion of his catch fresh from the boat.  Like a farmer’s fruit stand on a scenic country road, nautical settings like Orr’s Island, offer hungry customers, the opportunity to know exactly who caught dinner.  In this case it’s our hero, and each day, his family sells live lobster from a wharf in front of their home.  This flash sale opens for a whopping “one half hour” each afternoon.  Now that’s island living!

Located in Casco Bay and the Gulf of Mane, the small group of islands that make up Chuck’s community consists of 300 – 400 lobster fishermen in the surrounding waters.  They rely on the sea for their livelihood, as did the generations of fishermen who frequented the fish shack, photographed above with our hero.  Having stood the test of time for over 200 years, the shack and  surrounding land have been put into a special trust.  The protective trust names commercial fishermen as the focus and honors a long line of fishermen and future generations to come.

Ensuring a sustainable way of life in Maine

Passing it down to the next generation.  

Tied up next to John’s boat in Bass Harbor, are his Dad’s boat and his brother’s boat.  It’s a family of lobster fishermen, and John’s two year old son will most likely grow up to work alongside them.  Sustainability of lobster populations for future generations is crucial to this family and the countless thousands like them, in lobster fishing communities from Quebec, Canada to Long Island, USA.

In order to ensure bountiful lobster catches, lobster fishermen like John and his sternman Victor, practice a regulatory measure called v-notching.  This practice involves cutting a V into the tail of any egg bearing female lobster they catch.  Once notched, the lobster is placed back into the ocean, so it may produce millions of juvenile lobster eggs over a lifetime.  These v-notched females may never be harvested and are a testament to the lobster fishermen “doing good for seafood. ”

Although costly to the lobster fishermen, the catch and release of egg bearing females, is a self sustaining practice.  Lobster fishermen are heroes of a well managed lobster fishery.

Visit Stonington – Maine’s largest lobster port

Home to Capt John

Fishing out of the largest lobster port in Maine, John hauls approximately 800 traps in scenic Stonington. He has made lobster his life’s business and is situated at the epi-center of Maine’s lobsterland. Recent reports show that 149 million pounds of American lobster were caught in the USA last year, with more than 127 million pounds landed in Maine. This whopping lobster catch number makes up 85% percent of the nations harvest.

If you go, bring a camera with lots of space for pictures!  Stonington is a visual delight and beautiful harbor town.  Offering quaint shops and charming places to eat lobster, this lobster village provide a very good dose of Maine fishing life.  Where to eat lobster?  For fine dining visit Aragosta and for more casual choose Fisherman’s Friend.

Why we love it?  Filled with lobster boats!

Boat tours provided by a lobster fisherman – Boothbay Harbor

Take a trip.

Captain Larry catches lobsters off the waters of Boothbay Harbor, Maine and also charters educational and sightseeing tours.  Captain Bruce is his business partner who sails alongside him during the consumer trips, providing an up close and personal view of catching lobster. During the hour and a half they are out on the boat, Larry and Bruce haul lobster and teach about catch requirements and sustainability efforts.

They measure all lobsters with a lobster gauge and throw the undersized lobsters back. If a lobster is too small, it is not ready for harvest it goes back into the ocean. If it’s too big it goes back too. “Maine is the only state that has a maximum size,” says Bruce. Larger lobsters mean more eggs, which helps the lobster populations.

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.

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.