Posts

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.

Lobster Lady – Catches Lobster for Husband’s Pub

Lobster Lady in Massachusetts

Since she was a little girl, Therese has been hanging around lobster boats and learning the ways of the sea.  Conveniently living down the street, she would watch the lobstermen’s activities, at the same dock where her boat is tied up today.

At approximately 10 years of age, Therese was given a few lobster traps by a kindly mentor and her childhood play turned to a life time of lobster.  over the years, her fishing vessels grew from a little row boat, to a skiff, and finally a full size boat like she runs today.  When asked what she loves most about catching lobsters, she says “Being on the ocean, is like being in heaven.”  Like all lobster fishermen, this is way more than a day job for Therese.

Lobster is a family affair, and the lobsters Therese hauls out of the ocean become the lobster dinners for patrons at her husband’s restaurant, The Anchor Pub.  An icon in Beverly, Massachusetts this restaurant serves up lobster lunch and dinners to 1000’s of visitors each summer.  Fresh lobster is always on the menu.

Captain Alcide – Cape Egmont, Prince Edward Island

Captain Alcide

In his mid eighties, Alcide is still fishing in a small village on Prince Edward Island.  Lobster fishing is not easy, but when asked about the best part of his career, he said “whether a fisherman or a lobster fisherman, it’s all the same.  It’s the healthiest life you can know.”  Certainly the truth in this case.

Alcide started fishing when he was 14, and his father and grandfather were lobster fishermen before him.  With 70 years in the business, he has seen many changes to the industry.  For many years, fishing boats were not required to have names on them.  He also remembers the days before boat trailers.  He recalls hooking up horses to haul the boat down into the water for fishing and to pull it back out when returning to shore.

♥Learn more about Prince Edward Island.

Newport Lobster Shack – They Cook What They Catch!

From Trap to Plate

In 2009, a group of hardworking lobstermen banded together and opened the Newport Lobster Shack right on Long Wharf at State Pier 9.  Offering wild- caught live or cooked lobsters and crabs at boat prices,  the Newport Lobster Shack is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.   Mouth watering menu items include steamed lobster, lobster rolls spilling over with meat, lobster bisque,  lobster belly bombs, and lobster bites.   Now, that’s a lota lobster!   Sit at a picnic table in the shade and enjoy your meal as the salty air washes over you. Or, let them pack your live seafood on ice to travel home.  Aaaah, summer in New England.  It doesn’t get any fresher than this.

Why we love it:   The lobster is so fresh –  it practically jumps from the ocean onto your plate!   

Fresh Facts:

 

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.

Interested in a morning commute by boat?

Ever feel tempted to trade your four wheels for floating transportation?  Lobster fishermen are the complete 360 to traditional rows of cars, at the office parking lot.  Instead fishermen line up their transport, in rows at the wharf!  Bet we’d all agree it’s a bit more scenic!

So imagine…no traffic.  No honking horns.  No gridlock.   Just you and and a true convertible.   Trading billboards for seagulls.  The sometimes smog for salty air.  Air conditioning for sea breezes.

The lobster boat commute.  A person can dream right?  The only “burst in the bubble” is the timing of most lobster fishermen’s commutes.  It’s usually before the sun comes up!

 

 

 

 

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.

Ten reasons it’s great to fish lobster

Every wonder what it’s like to be a lobster fisherman?  We know it’s hard work but the job does have certain perks.  Just for fun, take a peek at our ‘top ten’ list in no particular order.

1.  If you fish lobster for a living, you get to wear cool boots.

2.  On a summers day, what’s better?

3.  You are always in the news.  For better or worse.  Reporters find you fascinating.

4.   Your office IS the company “water cooler.”

5.  You get to say “This is your captain speaking” and it’s true.

6.   Everyone dreams of owning their own boat.  You already do.

7.  Lobster fishermen have that “devil may care, wind blown hair” without even trying.

8.  No rush hour traffic (because you go to work around 4 a.m. )

9.   The world loves lobster and you are the one catching it.  Enough said.

10.  After hauling lobster traps all day, who needs the gym.

Click hereto meet lobster fishermen throughout USA and Canada.

Our very own – Ode to Lobster Buoys!

Lobster Buoys! Everybody loves ’em.  With cheery colors, they celebrate the sunshine in scenic waters.  They dot the ocean landscape in an endless array of shades.  As the starring subject in millions of photos, lobster buoys are used as decorations around the world. 

However, these colored beauties are more than just a pretty face.  They have an important job to do!

Buoys help mark specific lobster traps so lobster fishermen can easily locate and identify their catch.  As ocean currents can cause lobster pots to drift, the buoys’ bright colors are a beacon at sea.  Lobster fishermen paint their buoys specific colors and mark buoys with their license number to differentiate from other fishermen in their area – so there is no confusion when pulling traps! 

Lobster buoys make us smile and are tools of the trade for countless fishermen in the USA and Canada. 

Chatham – A Must Visit on Cape Cod

A Scenic Lobster Town in Massachusetts

This classic Cape Cod community is situated in a protected harbor between Nantucket Sound and the open Atlantic Ocean.  With lovely views of the sea form many vantage points, part of the charm is driving the scenic streets gawking at waterview homes or hanging out at Fish Pier on Shore Road for first hand views of lobstermen unloading their catch.

Complete with a lighthouse and beaches, Chatham Massachusetts is a perfect lobster village to spend a day or a week.  The store lined town is full of lovely shops, seafood restaurants and people watching.  Menus brim with lobster rolls which you can enjoy in outdoor or indoor seating or take on the road for a seaside picnic.  Looking for an authentic lobster dinner?  You won’t be disappointed, as there are many placed to put on your lobster bib and let the butter drip down your chin.  Crack into Chatham!

Why we love it:   Watch the lobstermen unload their catch at the Chatham Fish Pier!

Fresh Facts:

● Just 87 miles south of Boston
● 1 iconic lighthouse
● Chatham Fish Pier
● 6 major saltwater beaches
● Home to approximately 33 commercial lobster fishermen and 8,200 lobster traps

HAY-VAL Charters – A Lobster Boat Tour in Boothbay Harbor

A Lobster Lover’s Experience

Located in scenic Boothbay Harbor, Hay-Val Charters offers lobster boat tours with two experienced captains as your hosts!  All tours will leave from the dock located at the Tugboat Inn.

Step aboard the F/V Lady Esther with Captain Larry Knapp, one of the region’s most seasoned lobstermen, along with Captain Bruce White.  Your adventure on the water will last 1 1/2 hours on the 42 foot lobster boat, complete with pulling lobster pot traps, learning about how lobsters are measured and re-baiting traps to set them back in the ocean.

Why we love it:  It’s the real deal!  A sweet and salty lobster learning adventure. 

Fresh Facts: