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Holding tank hoists lobster sales in Winter Harbor

been at the mercy of selling to the middle man,” said Bob Harmon, co-op manager. With their new tank, the co-op can hold onto their lobster until they find the right price for them. “This takes the worry out of it,” Doane said. Winter Harbor’s tank can hold up to 20,000 pounds of lobster. The co-op is also grading their lobster. A graded product can bring 25 to 50 cents more per pound than an ungraded product, according to Harmon. “That’s a substantial amount of increased profit.” The co-op will see greater returns by directly marketing a portion of their lobster to consumers. They can direct market their product because the new tank allows them to grade and hold the product. The refrigerated unit keeps lobsters at 36 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, the lobsters stop cannibalizing each other—allowing the co-op to offer the flawless lobsters that the retail market demands. The tank’s water filtration system provides a healthy environment for the lobster which benefits the quality of the meat. “The water quality is what you’re eating; that’s the flavor of the lobster,” explained Doane. His tanks use carbon and coral to ensure good filtration. The co-op will market a portion of their product through Internet sales. Their website (www.winterharborlobstercoop.com) will be updated soon. “We’re hoping will be profitable,” said Harmon. “It supplements our business. It’s something the tank gives us the ability to do.” Lastly, the co-op can hold lobsters in the new tank until they have larger quantities, thus reducing trucking costs. Dale Torry, one of the founding members of the Winter Harbor Lobster Co-op and current president of the association, said the decision to invest in the tank was “unanimous.” He said the boat price was too low not to do something. “The worst that could happen was that we’d lose more money,” he said. Can other co-ops try what Winter Harbor is doing? The limiting factor, Doane explained, often comes down to having enough room for a tank. Another consideration, Harmon said, is that the marketing is “quite a bit of extra work.”  But that’s the job he came on board to do, Harmon said.

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