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In the News: May 2011

O’Hara Corporation expands Rockland business The O'Hara Corporation of Rockland is expanding its operations to become the biggest bait dealer in the state. The company recently purchased a 58,000 square-foot former manufacturing building in Rockland. The building will be used for multiple purposes, including a 4,000 square-foot freezer for storage of frozen bait and almost 9,000 square-feet for salt storage. This will allow O’Hara Corporation to provide additional frozen product when fresh herring from the Gulf of Maine is scarce during the summer and early fall months. O'Hara Corporation purchases frozen bait from all over the world, including frozen red fish racks, carp and rock fish from the west coast, Orange roughy from New Zealand, and other products from Iceland. With the purchase of the new facility, the company anticipates increasing sales of the frozen fish by 30 to 40 percent. The new building is located next to the Maine Eastern Railroad, making it convenient to ship frozen bait to the facility by train.

Canada’s Maritime Fishermen’s Union tries something new The Maritime Fishermen's Union has launched a pilot project where some lobsters are being tagged with computer codes. The purpose is to introduce consumers to the fishermen who landed the lobster they are eating. The tags are attached to the bands around the claws of each lobster. Consumers can go online, type in the code and see pictures of the person who caught that lobster and the area where it was landed. Once the code is entered, the visitor can see a picture of the lobsterman who landed the lobster, his boat, the waters in which he fishes, and other information. Some MFU lobstermen who are participating in the project have already received e-mails from consumers in Norway, France, Belgium and Japan. “One mentioned they loved leaving the restaurant with that tag in their hand and they couldn't wait to go home and check to see who caught the lobster,” a lobsterman reported.

Luke’s Lobster chain on a roll Luke’s Lobsters is growing by leaps and bounds. Luke Holden and partner Ben Conniff signed a lease on two new locations for the popular lobster roll restaurant in April. The company’s fourth New York City site will be at 26 South William Street. Its first Washington D.C. eatery will be located at 624 E Street Northwest, in the city’s Penn Quarter. Both sites are slated to open this summer. Luke Holden’s first restaurant opened in October, 2009, in New York’s East Village. When the store began selling 300 lobster rolls per day, Holden looked for a second location on the Upper East Side. That restaurant opened in May, 2010, followed by a third location on the Upper West Side in December of the same year. The restaurant emphasizes Maine food, selling in addition to its signature lobster rolls Gifford’s ice cream, Maine Root sodas, and Hurricane’s Premium Soups and Chowders. The lobsters come from Portland Shellfish, owned by his father, Jeff Holden. Luke’s Lobster donates a portion of their profits each year to benefit the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.

Dennis Damon praised by ASMFC Former state Senator Dennis Damon of Trenton received accolades from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) last month. Damon served on the ASMFC for eight years, retiring last year when he lost his seat due to mandated term limits. “During your years as a Commissioner, you distinguished yourself as an enthusiastic supporter for the Commission and our process. Your active involvement help ensured Maine’s legislative voice was heard at our table, and that Commission actions were understood by the Legislature,” John O’Shea, executive director of the ASMFC said in a letter to Damon.  “Thank you for the personal sacrifices you made to serve as a Commissioner. I especially appreciate the strong support you gave me and the thoughtful courtesies you always afforded our staff. You are a true gentleman.”

Herring fishing firm shuts its doors Northern Pelagic Group of New Bedford fishing company ceased operations in April, saying that it can no longer operate profitably due to fishery regulations. The company came to New Bedford in 2002. Its trawlers fished for sea herring in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank from June through November and fished for mackerel farther to the south from January to April. Much of the herring was frozen and exported as food to the Middle East, while the remainder provided lobster bait to Maine fishermen. Northern pelagic Group’s trawlers were prevented from landing their entire allocation of herring from Georges Bank because of a New England Fisheries Management Council regulation rule that limits the amount of haddock caught as bycatch that can be landed. That amount this year is .02 percent of the total allowable haddock catch rather than the 2 percent allowed last year.

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