Maine’s 2013 lobster fishery tops charts but abundance varies by zone

HALLOWELL, ME – Calling it “the state’s most lucrative fishery,” the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) announced in early March that the 2013 harvest of American lobsters resulted in yet “another year of record landings and value.”

Accompanied by the usual caveat that all of its figures were still “preliminary,” the DMR said 2013 lobster landings totaled 125,953,876 pounds, the second highest level on record, surpassed only by last year’s staggering 127,225,275-pound record breaker.

The value of the 2013 catch was initially placed at $364,518,516 million – by far the highest ever recorded – representing a $22 million increase over 2012 and a $30 million increase over 2011.

But the real value of Maine’s lobster fishery has always been difficult for the DMR to tabulate because annual “bonuses” play a role in the bottom line.

Lobster co-operatives pay their members an annual “patronage dividend,” more commonly called a “bonus,” to divvy up profits among members who sell to co-ops.  The practice has evolved significantly over the years and, today, some dealers also pay “bonuses.”  The tricky part is that some co-ops and dealers pay lower prices per pound on a daily basis but then hand out large bonus checks after they close their books for the year…

CFN_4_14coverRead the rest and much, much more in the April issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

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