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Lobster Harvest Value Breaks Record in 2021

Last year was the most valuable year in the history of Maine’s lobster fishery according to recently updated data from the Department of Marine Resources (DMR). The landed value for lobster was $724,949,426, a 75% increase compared to 2020. The previous record was $541 million in 2016. The one-year increase in value — $312,464,172 — was more than the total landed value of lobster in 2009.

“The extraordinary value earned last year by Maine lobster harvesters is a clear reflection of strong consumer confidence in the Maine lobster brand and the products and people it represents,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher.

“I’m thrilled to see the strong demand for Maine lobster in 2021 generated from retail, foodservice and direct-to-consumer channels. We know that it came at a time when lobstermen were contending with high labor, gas and bait prices,” said Marianne Lacroix, executive director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. 

The lobster landings continued a twelve-year historic run during which lobstermen landed close to or more than 100 million pounds. Landings increased by more than 10 million pounds, to 108,048,704 pounds, compared to 2020, an increase of more than 10%.

“The 2021 lobster landings show the continued success of the Maine lobster fishery and how lobstermen’s dedication to building one of the world’s most sustainable fisheries is paying off. They also show how vital the lobster industry is to our state’s economy,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.

Maine lobstermen will confront continually tightening regulations in the next eight years as part of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) efforts to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales. The most recent regulations, which go into effect May 1, require lobstermen to reduce the risk of lobster gear entangling right whales by 60%. The ten-year whale plan requires an additional 60% in 2025 and a further 87% in 2030.

“While last year’s harvest broke records, the challenges facing the fishery are unprecedented,” McCarron said. “Lobstermen continue to face escalating operational costs due to inflation and supply chain issues even as they cope with the federal government’s burdensome ten-year whale plan that threatens to wipe out the entire industry. Maine’s lobster industry is strong but we need to double down on our efforts to ensure it remains that way.”

“Last year was one for the books…,” said Commissioner Keliher. “But there are many challenges ahead, and it’s important that fishermen remain engaged in management discussions that will strive to make this stock resilient for future generations.”

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