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In the News: April 2011

Maine's seafood exports pick up steam in 2010 Maine exports took a hit in 2009, dropping 26 percent from 2008 to 2009. However, everything changed for the better in 2010. Maine seafood exports jumped almost 60 percent, up to $287.4 million. And Maine exports overall hit a record high of $3.14 billion, a 41.11 percent increase from 2009. In terms of growth from 2009 to 2010, Maine saw the second highest rate of growth in the nation as a percentage of sales. U.S. exports jumped 21 percent in 2010; Maine almost doubled that growth. Among the traditional sectors, such as electronics, paper and pulp production, which all saw rises in 2010, Maine boatbuilding stood out in 2010 as well. Maine exported $16.9 million in ships in 2008, $12.9 million in 2009 and $17.4 million in 2010. Part of the reason for the increase is that the traditional high-end boats Maine yards produce are becoming more and more technologically advanced, meeting foreign consumer demand.

Canadian lobstermen agree to half cent contribution to marketing campaign Members of the Canadian Maritime Fishermen’s Union (MFU) recently agreed to contribute  half a cent per pound of lobster sold toward a marketing campaign. They hope all of the other fishermen and processors in Quebec and Atlantic Canada do the same, which would give the Lobster Council of Canada $1 million a year to develop new markets for lobster. Other Canadian food industries, such as Alberta beef and British Columbia salmon have successfully instituted cooperative marketing strategies. Prices for Canadian lobster remain low while sales in the U.S. have dropped. “When you start introducing your product in China, first of all, you have a much greater distance, you have a completely different culture around eating foods in general, so you have to invest some money or else you’re not going to succeed in doing very much,” said MFU union spokesman Christian Brun.

Gulf of Maine fish promoted as "Responsibly Harvested" The Gulf of Maine Research Institute has teamed up with the Maine fishing industry and retailers to promote sales of four species that are sustainably harvested from the Gulf of Maine. At Hannaford Supermarkets, cod, haddock, lobster and northern shrimp will be labeled with seals reading “Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested.” The seals will distinguish Gulf of Maine seafood from competing products and inform seafood consumers that some fish stocks in the Gulf are plentiful. The goal of the program is to emphasize that not all New England fisheries are over-exploited and in fact, some stocks in the Gulf of Maine are well managed and healthy. Partners from the fishing industry include Bristol Seafood, North Atlantic Inc., Slade Gorton, Cozy Harbor Seafood Inc. and New Meadows Lobster. The new brand will help seafood processors and fishermen compete against foreign competitors and help distinguish Gulf of Maine fish from low-cost foreign products.

Ghost gear comes ashore again in second spring clean-up For the second year, lobstermen are hauling up lost lobster traps along the Maine coast. The project, coordinated by the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation with help from the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), is funded with a $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Last year, 30 lobstermen spent six days bringing up “ghost gear” along the downeast coast, hauling up 1,130 traps. According to Laura Ludwig, the project coordinator, there’s much more to be done. Last year, the DMR issued about 70,000 replacement tags for lost lobster traps in 2009 and 2010, she said. Lobstermen who take part in the program receive stipends to cover their fuel costs. In April lobstermen will retrieve gear from Penobscot Bay south to New Hampshire border. The project also involves research to assess the impact of lost gear. Researchers are trying to answer questions such as whether lost traps become a safe haven for lobsters and other creatures, how much lost gear there is in the water, and whether lost traps’ biodegradable escape vents actually decompose and let lobsters out.

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