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Communities Come Together to Support #SaveMaineLobstermen

“It takes a village” is an expression that means many people must cooperate to achieve a goal, and this has certainly been true over the past few weeks as community after community has come together to help #SaveMaineLobstermen.

"Chowder’s On" in Kittery

On February 26, “Chowder’s On!” took place at the Kittery Community Center. Organized by Betsy Wish, Charlene Hoyt (the wife and mother of local lobstermen), and lifelong lobsterman and Maine Lobstermen’s Association member Dave Kaselauskas, the event brought together well more than 100 people who enjoyed homemade lobster stew, clam chowder, and pie!

Betsy Wish, Mark Hoyt and Charlene Hoyt. MLA photo.

“Kittery, the oldest town in Maine, is where so many locals are either related to or have known lobstermen for most of their lives. It is a community where folks understand that lobstering is so much more than a job. It’s a way of life shared by generations, by many families where it’s a birthright,” said Betsy Wish, who has spent 16 years kayaking on the water, taking photos of local lobstermen, and delivering them fresh-baked cookies.

“With so many businesses and individuals eager to jump on board our event, Charlene, Dave, and I found that we were able to accomplish one of our goals — to support the MLA’s efforts to protect Maine’s lobstermen. We also felt it was equally important to raise awareness for the many ways the health of our community depends on the health of the lobstering community,” said Wish.

Dozens of local businesses donated items for the silent and live auctions, and volunteers helped set up and take down the auditorium. No detail was overlooked as Betsy, Charlene, Dave, and their team went all out to ensure not only a lively and fun event but also an informational one. Dave discussed the challenges currently facing Maine’s lobstering families. This event raised more than $23,000 for our Save Maine Lobstermen campaign!

“I’ve watched my husband, Scott Hoyt, lobster in Kittery Point since he and I started dating in 1986,” said Charlene Hoyt. “His ethics and moral compass are outstanding. He lives by the highest standards of sustainability and respect. He taught our sons these standards as they grew up fishing with him on Slow Mocean. Our youngest son, Mark, began hauling his own traps at 11 years old, earned a degree in Fisheries Management from Unity College, and has built a strong, commercial lobstering business on his own boat, Ledgehammer.

For Charlene, organizing the “Chowder’s On” event was also personal. “To see this industry’s extraordinary reputation dragged through the mudflats and defamed feels like a brutal attack not only to the industry, but to our family. It feels as if each lobsterman is being found guilty before being proven innocent, and that is in direct opposition to all we believe in. Character is everything, and the Maine lobstering industry exemplifies stellar character in every regard,” she said.

She also encourages other communities to get involved. “Our event blew our expectations right out of the ocean waters. The community showed up big and beautiful, with open hearts, minds, and wallets. Betsy and I encourage communities all along the seacoast to make some noise. You’ll be surprised by how much misinformation exists and just how much love and support are ready to ignite from your spark of energy,” she said.

Upcoming events include a Lobster Festival sponsored by the city of Auburn on May 6 and a concert in Portland on May 7th. CLICK HERE for more details.

Southport Was the Place to Be

That energy continued up along the coast when, on Friday, March 10, Robinson’s Wharf in Southport was the place to be!

Maine’s own country band 12/OC had the entire wharf celebrating the pub’s ‘opening night’ of sorts for 2023. More than 100 people bought tickets to enjoy the music, food, and drink along with an opportunity to bid on dozens of amazing donations from local businesses in the silent auction.

Staff at Robinson’s went out of their way to ensure not only a successful fundraising event, but also a fantastic celebration of the importance of lobstering to their community. Special thanks to recently retired MLA board member Mark Jones for all his work on this event as well. When every penny is counted, we expect this event will have raised roughly $30,000 for our campaign.

Community support is critical to our success — and we are forever grateful to people like Betsy, Charlene, Dave, Mark, Rachel, and Hannah (at Robinson’s) and the hundreds of people who came out to both events!

Support from Towns is Growing

Voters and residents in several Maine towns have either agreed or voted to make donations to MLA’s Save Maine Lobstermen legal defense fund. On March 11, voters in Harpswell approved a $10,000 donation; on March 20th, voters in Friendship approved $10,000; and on March 21, voters in Bristol approved a $3,000 donation. The communities of Cutler, Mount Desert, Sorrento, Stonington, and Kittery have also made or approved donations thus far this year.

In 2022, MLA received donations from the communities of Boothbay, Cranberry Isles, Ellsworth, Friendship, Georgetown, Jonesport, Long Island, Machiasport, South Thomaston, Stonington, Tremont, Vinalhaven, and York, as well as the State of Maine.

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