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2020 Lobster Landings And Values Stronger Than Expected

Despite unprecedented market losses, Maine fishermen earned over a half billion dollars for their catch in 2020. Valued at $516,796,614, the ex-vessel value of Maine’s commercially harvested marine resources was the ninth highest on record.

“Maine fishermen and seafood dealers weathered one of the most difficult years in memory, but through hard work and an unwavering dedication to quality, they were able to once again provide tremendous value for seafood consumers, and a vital economic foundation for Maine’s coastal communities,” said Governor Janet Mills.

Maine’s lobster fishery once again accounted for most of Maine’s overall landed value at $405,983,832, which was only the seventh time in the history of the fishery the landed value has exceeded $400 million. “Maine’s lobster industry faced tremendous uncertainty in 2020,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “At this time last year the industry was facing a pending market collapse due to COVID-19, but industry’s response was remarkable. Dealers developed new markets and harvesters adjusted effort based on market realities, all of which resulted in a good boat price during a year with seemingly insurmountable obstacles,” said Commissioner Keliher.   

Photo by D. Alley.

At 96 million pounds, the lobster catch declined by approximately 5% from 2019 landings, but according to landings data, the volume was the ninth highest in the history of the fishery. At $4.20 per pound, the boat price was significantly better than the $3.76 average boat price over the past ten years.

“The Maine lobster industry continues to demonstrate exceptional resiliency,” said Keliher. “I’m extremely proud of the commitment by harvesters and dealers to adapt to change and to sustain the value of this critically important industry.”

Softshell clam harvesters earned the second highest value of all Maine fishermen in 2020 on the strength of a six cent-per-pound increase in value. Despite 1.2 million fewer pounds landed, harvesters were paid $15,671,473. Maine scallop fishermen brought ashore an additional 224,874 pounds compared to 2019, ranking the fishery as the third most valuable, despite a 19 cent-per-pound decrease in value.

Blood worms, used as bait for species like striped bass, were the fourth most valuable fishery at $6,649,864. The value was an increase of $363,773 over the previous year, the product of a $1.34 per pound jump despite a decline in landings of just over 2%.

Menhaden, used as bait for lobster, were Maine’s fifth most valuable commercially harvested species at $6,395,527. Oysters, cultivated in aquaculture operations, were valued at $5,907,859, which made them the sixth most valuable commercial species in 2020 due to a per-pound increase of 24 cents. Overall landed value in 2020, however, dropped by $987,628.

Despite a decrease in per-pound value of more than $1,500, elvers remained one of the most valuable species harvested in Maine in 2020, with harvesters earning $5,067,521. “Maine harvesters, dealers, and aquaculturists have faced an unmatched year of challenges,” said Commissioner Keliher. “But I’ve been extraordinarily proud to see how this industry deals with hardship, solves problems, and continues to deliver the best seafood in the world.”    


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