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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.

St. Andrews by the Sea – Lobster fishing duo and tours

Married fishing team offers lobster boat tours.

Captain Jamie with his wife and Sternman Alison catch lobsters in the Bay of Fundy and also charter educational tours.  Located in the scenic town of St. Andrews by the Sea, these business partners offer an up close and personal view of catching lobster. As with many lobster fishermen, they say lobster has brought many good things into their lives.  The two were actually married on the lobster boat in a unique wedding ceremony.

Jamie and Alison’s passion for the industry is evident.  In addition to fishing lobster for a living,  their boat tours pass on important knowledge to the end consumer.  Hauling lobster traps, learning about catch requirements and hearing about the industry’s sustainability efforts, makes for  priceless adventure.  A must for the to do list, the boat tour.  http://spearsfishingandcharter.com/

Lobster fishing in Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia

Captain Peter – Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia

Since the age of 11, Peter has been setting lobster traps.  His family home was located on the waterfront and he worked with his father learning the lobster trade.  Peter also practiced with his own traps, using a rowboat to lay 5 or 6 out in front of their house.  Today, Peter’s own son Leonard fishes lobster and the tradition of generations continues.

Like many lobster fishermen, Peter sites the sense of independence as a benefit of being a lobster fisherman.   Much has changed in the years he has been fishing but not the freedom.  Technology has made fishing easier.  Today lobster boats are equipped with a winch, which mechanically helps to hoists the heavy lobster traps up onto the boat.  When Peter first began fishing, traps were hauled hand over hand.

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.

Wooden Beauties – Tools of the Lobster Trade

Lobster traps have a long and interesting place in lobster history.

Wooden lobster traps are made by hand, and much time is consumed with building and repairing these wooden beauties. Many lobster fishermen knit the nylon nets that are used inside the traps. Wooden traps are mainly seen in use on Prince Edward Island.

Metal traps are much more prevalent these days and they produced from plastic coated metal wire. These newer models are resistant to corrosion and weathering, sturdy and lighter in weight than wet wooden traps.

Regardless of material, lobster industry uses traps as a tool to haul in these tasty treats – so three cheers for the Trap!

Where to see these?

 

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.

St. Andrews by the Sea – Lobster fishing duo and tours

Married fishing team offers lobster boat tours.

Captain Jamie with his wife and Sternman Alison catch lobsters in the Bay of Fundy and also charter educational tours.  Located in the scenic town of St. Andrews by the Sea, these business partners offer an up close and personal view of catching lobster. As with many lobster fishermen, they say lobster has brought many good things into their lives.  The two were actually married on the lobster boat in a unique wedding ceremony.

Jamie and Alison’s passion for the industry is evident.  In addition to fishing lobster for a living,  their boat tours pass on important knowledge to the end consumer.  Hauling lobster traps, learning about catch requirements and hearing about the industry’s sustainability efforts, makes for  priceless adventure.  A must for the to do list, the boat tour.  http://spearsfishingandcharter.com/

Lobster fishing in Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia

Captain Peter – Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia

Since the age of 11, Peter has been setting lobster traps.  His family home was located on the waterfront and he worked with his father learning the lobster trade.  Peter also practiced with his own traps, using a rowboat to lay 5 or 6 out in front of their house.  Today, Peter’s own son Leonard fishes lobster and the tradition of generations continues.

Like many lobster fishermen, Peter sites the sense of independence as a benefit of being a lobster fisherman.   Much has changed in the years he has been fishing but not the freedom.  Technology has made fishing easier.  Today lobster boats are equipped with a winch, which mechanically helps to hoists the heavy lobster traps up onto the boat.  When Peter first began fishing, traps were hauled hand over hand.

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.

Wooden Beauties – Tools of the Lobster Trade

Lobster traps have a long and interesting place in lobster history.

Wooden lobster traps are made by hand, and much time is consumed with building and repairing these wooden beauties. Many lobster fishermen knit the nylon nets that are used inside the traps. Wooden traps are mainly seen in use on Prince Edward Island.

Metal traps are much more prevalent these days and they produced from plastic coated metal wire. These newer models are resistant to corrosion and weathering, sturdy and lighter in weight than wet wooden traps.

Regardless of material, lobster industry uses traps as a tool to haul in these tasty treats – so three cheers for the Trap!

Where to see these?

 

How much moola does a lobster fisherman make?

Do you dream of being a lobster fisherman?  Out on a boat all day, catching lobster?

YES, there are some wonderful reasons why lobster fishermen have a good gig, but do they really bring home the “bacon?”

Let’s take a look at a sample scenario lobster business:

If you catch 56,000 pounds of lobster per year, then your sample gross revenues are $179,000.  (Don’t forget lobster prices fluctuate so they never know what will be paid.)

Ok so the gross numbers sound great.  BUT wait.  Then you have to consider:

Bait:  $25,000 (yes really)

Crew: $26,000 (to haul all those traps you need help.)

Fuel:  $9,200 (most likely higher)

This leaves you with $118,800 but with other misc expenses for an average of ($25,600) and then cost of capital like your boat ($25,700) –  you are down to an estimated net of $67,500.

{Estimates provided by Maine Lobstermen’s Association, and are samples only.  Numbers may vary and are samples only.}

A very cool lobster couple in Annandale, PEI

Meet Captains Colin and Dawn!

Fishing lobster on Prince Edward Island, married couple, Colin and Dawn – give new meaning to the word teamwork.  Annandale, is where they call home, an island village boasting classic rows of weathered fishing shacks and green wide fields for livestock.

With a family history of lobster fishing, this duo both had parents that fished – including Dawn’s own mother.  The first woman in Annandale to operate a lobster fleet, she hauled her own traps alongside her husband (who also had his own boat.)  Colin also recalls his grandfather as a lobster fisherman.  It’s in his blood, and he just “loves it”, he said.  Adding “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

It’s not hard to understand why, in their quiet seaside location, which is filled with partially built wood framed traps.  The family builds them in the off-season and hundreds are piled up in big stacks.  No loud machinery, no computers, just the sound of hands working.  Whether on land or at sea, peace, is a word (well used), to describe this area of the world.

Meet a Wedgeport, NS lobster fisherman

Meet Capt Lucien!

Home to some 3,800 coastal islands, the province of Nova Scotia hosts the fishing grounds of our hero, Lucien.  Living and working in the scenic town of Wedgeport, Lucien proudly points out the boat building facilities located there – producing many of the boats used by Canadian fishermen.

His boat in particular features large holding facilities for the catch, for several days at sea.  Unlike many lobster fishermen who go out for a hard day of catching lobster, Lucien often fishes in 600 foot waters, and has to stay out on his fishing trips, for several overnights at a time.

As a young man, with a long life of lobstering ahead of him, Lucien wants to help ensure there are plentiful lobsters for generations to come.   He adheres to the laws designed to protect lobster fishermen and the industry as a whole.  As part of strict conservancy efforts, all lobster traps must be equipped with special escape vents.  These vents allow undersized lobsters to escape and also utilize a biodegradable panel, that is designed to release lobsters from traps, if the traps are lost while fishing.

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.

 

Got traps? – Meet a PEI Lobster Fisherman!

Captain of a lovely vessel  named the Silver Wave, Norman is a classic lobster fisherman on Prince Edward Island (PEI). 

One of 8 siblings, Norman was born at home, in the village of North Rustico, which is peppered by unique wooden traps.  These lobster traps are made by hand, and much of Norman’s time is consumed with building and repairing these wooden beauties, during the off season.   In fact, he also knits the nylon nets that are used in the traps – which only furthers the  beautiful legacy of PEI’s wild caught lobster fishery.

Like Norman’s fellow Canadian lobster fishermen, his season for fishing lobster is not year round, and seasons open only part of the year.  These Canadian Lobster Season are part of a well managed sustainable fishery effort.  All told, there are two lobster seasons on PEI. The first runs May through the end of June, and the second from August through October.  If you are lucky, you might just catch Norman out there fishing!

Click here to meet more lobster fishermen.