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In the News: November 2014

Traps turn into glasses A 25-year-old Harpswell man thinks there’s money to be made in old lobster traps. When John Turner took a walk on Willard Beach in South Portland, he found a 15-year-old lobster trap washed up on shore. “I thought it was deserving of a new life,” said Turner. He started to dream up things that he could make from the trap, finally settling on sunglasses. He used a 3-D printer to design a selection of frames, then took those designs and the wood from the lobster trap to East Coast Woodworking in Bath. There, wood workers helped create custom temples for the sunglasses which are made of lobster trap wood and Italian acetate. Turner and his business partner, Daniel Dougherty, of Camden, launched two styles — “Ulysses” and “Jack” — in October. Some versions of the frames will cost $300.

Seafood owner sentenced in October John Price, 58, of Kittery, who owns J.P. Shellfish of Eliot, was scheduled to be sentenced on October 29 for 12 counts of illegal currency structuring and one count of violation of the Lacey Act. Price pleaded guilty in January to those charges. Price was found guilty in a federal and state case against Robert Thompson of St. George, the former manager of the Spruce Head Fishermen’s Cooperative. Thompson was arrested in 2012 and accused of stealing more than $1 million worth of lobsters from co-op members and selling them to Price’s business. Price’s seafood business was the primary buyer of lobsters from the Spruce Head Fishermen’s Cooperative, which has about 56 lobstermen as members.

Chinese take over Nova Scotia business Zoneco Group Corp. Ltd., of Dalian, China acquired H&H Fisheries Ltd., an Nova Scotian seafood processing company. The new owners have changed the firm’s name to Capital Seafood International Inc. and plan to operate as a year-round rather than as a seasonal operation. Zoneco Group also plans to create a large lobster storage facility in the southwestern part of Nova Scotia. “We’re looking for six to seven million pounds per year of , at least in the immediate term,” Jack Liu, president of North American operations for ZF Max International Inc., a subsidiary of Zoneco Group, said. “We believe we will be looking for 10 million pounds per year in the near future,” he said. The company will hire an additional 50 employees. Officials with Zoneco Group said that Capital Seafood International’s facility will also be used to process and export other products, including sea urchin, haddock, cod, halibut and sea cucumber.

South Korea shows appetite for Maine lobsters The volume of lobsters exported to South Korea has skyrocketed thanks to the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. According to the United States Department of Commerce, lobster sales to Korea accounted for $18.1 million last year, up by 639.5 percent compared with $2.4 million in sales which took place in 2011, prior to implementation of the Free Trade Agreement. South Korea is now one of the six largest lobster importing countries in the world, following Canada, Italy, Spain, China and France. Export figures for lobster specifically from Maine hit a record $5.0 million, up dramatically compared with $480,000 in export sales in 2011.

Nursery proposed for Marine businesses Part of the Maine State Pier may become a marine industries incubator on Portland’s waterfront. Thor Sigfusson, an entrepreneur from Iceland, and Patrick Arnold, the owner of Soli DG Inc., a management and consulting firm in South Portland, are in talks with city officials about leasing the top floor of the former municipal transit shed on the pier. The two companies plan to model the new business incubator, called New England Ocean Cluster, after the Iceland Ocean Cluster, a privately owned business in Reykjavik. That company works in collaboration with 40 other companies, many of them start-ups, in a converted warehouse on Reykjavik’s waterfront to explore ways to bring marine-related products to market. Beyond setting up a similar complex in Maine for ocean-related businesses to share space and ideas, the effort could make Portland the preferred location for other North Atlantic nations that are seeking capital, partners and markets in the United States. Backers of the New England Ocean Cluster plan to start the enterprise with 20 marine-related businesses that would lease private offices and shared space.

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