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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Today's Concerns Are Echoes From the Past

Warren Fernald. B. Fernald photo.

Warren Fernald was born in 1927 on Little Cranberry Island, also known as Islesford, the last resident to be born on the island until 2021. He joined the Navy in 1945 and in 1950 returned to Islesford when he began lobstering. One of his six children is Bruce Fernald, who sent us a letter his father wrote to Maine Coast Fisherman in 1959 concerning the MLA. According to Bruce, “My father was a very practical and conservative man. I’ve always believed when it came to lobstering he could stretch a dollar further than any fisherman I’ve ever known.”

To the editor:

As a very interested member of the MLA and a year around lobster fisherman, I am deeply concerned about both being a success. I often wonder why there isn’t more interest in the MLA. I think we are very much in need of an organization to look out for our welfare and interest. All one has to do to see that most of the other branches of the fishing industry in the U.S.A. are organized, is to scan through the National Fisherman’s magazine. They all seem to feel that they can not make a proper living unless they help themselves. Why should a lobster fisherman be any different?

I have often been asked, “What good is the MLA? What have they done?” It is to these people I speak. What have they themselves done? Most of them won’t even take time to attend a meeting to find out what is being done, and what can be done, with a little of their help and backing.

I was one of the first to become a member and am going to be the last to give up my support to the organization. It is worth my $5.00 in dues just to meet occasionally with my fellowmen all along the coast and to hear their ideas and problems. If we all felt the same, I am sure we would have a much more secure future.

Until our organization was born, the Maine lobsterman never had an office of their own open all year looking out for their interests and welfare. Never before had they anyone to be on hand at Augusta to fight legislation for them. What more can a man ask for $5.00? The MLA has already, in one small way, saved that amount for each fisherman by keeping his license fee at $5.00 instead of the proposed $10.00. We have weathered several heavy storms and are still intact. Why give up now? Please think it over and attend some of our meetings. In hopes this will bring a few more members in our organization.

Warren Fernald Islesford


To the editor:

This year will be my 54th season lobstering from Kittery Point. I’ve been successful, raising a family and supporting my industry whenever I could. Lobstering has given me a wonderful way of life. Only those in the business know what a rush it is to be a lobsterman — “Your worst day at sea is better than any day on land.”

David Kaselauskas. MLA photo.

In 1982: 1. bait was $25/drum 2. fuel was $.60/gal 3. deckhands receive 10-15% off the top

In 2022: 1. bait was $325/drum 2. fuel was $6-7/gal 3. deckhands receive 20-25% off the top

I’ve been thinking about the difference between a few decades back and now.

What hasn’t changed is the lobster boat price! I received $3.00/lb. in both 1982 and 2022.

In 1982, two drums of pogies cost $50, 20 gallons of fuel came to $15.00, so my total expenses were $65.00. Just 25 lbs. of lobster at $3.00/lb. covered my daily expenses.

In 2022, two drums of pogies cost me $65, 20 gallons of fuel comes to $130, so my total expenses are $780.00. That means I need to bring in 260 lbs. of lobster at $3.00/lb. to cover my daily expenses.

Without reviewing the entire economic picture, it doesn’t take Kudlow or Greenspan to see that if the lobsterman doesn’t receive at the very least a minimum of $5.00/pound at today’s costs, then the dealers soon will be looking out of their windows wondering where all the boats have gone. We need the dealers’ help, just as they need ours or there will be more and more boats for sale.

2021 proved that a decent boat price worked well for both dealers and lobstermen. Local businesses thrived with lobstermen spending on engines, electronics, traps, boats and other gear. The public consumed our product with enthusiasm. A compromise must be achieved where all our families can survive. Unless I’m missing something, only the dealers can make this happen.

David Kaselauskas Kittery

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