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Lobster Landings Solid for 2022, But Value Down

Maine lobstermen landed nearly 98 million pounds of lobster in 2022, down from 110.5 million pounds in 2021 according to preliminary data released by the Department of Marine Resources at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in March. The value of the 2022 catch was $388,589,931; average price per pound was $3.97. The value dropped significantly from 2021, when lobstermen received $742,168,052 for their catch and the average price per pound hit an all-time high of $6.71.

Governor Mills highlighted the lobster industry’s continued resiliency in the face of significant challenges. “Maine’s lobstermen were facing tremendous uncertainty about their future last year over pending federal whale regulations, compounded by the high costs for bait and fuel,” she said.

The price drop was a hardship for many in the lobstermen who attribute low prices to the decline in landings. “In 2021, coming out of the pandemic, people had money to spend. They were out and about, buying lobster. Things were good,” noted MLA president Kristan Porter. “Then last year, inflation hit, the economy not as great. People were spending more money on groceries and to fill up their car. They weren’t doing the extras, so demand (for lobster) was low. With price being low, a lot of guys did not fish as hard.”

DMR data back this theory. According to DMR senior lobster biologist, Kathleen Reardon, in 2022 lobstermen left the dock to fish far fewer times than in any other year since 2008 when DMR began collecting this data. Overall trips fell below the previous low reported I 2020 due the pandemic.

Overall, Maine fishermen harvested slightly more than 197 million pounds of seafood in 2022, worth $574 million. According to DMR, that value is consistent with the average value between 2011 and 2020, which was $586.6 million.

There was some good news for Maine fishermen in 2022. The value of Maine’s menhaden landings in 2022 increased by more than $1.6 million over 2021, reaching $12,066,941 in 2022. “Maine achieved a major win in 2022 for both lobster and menhaden harvesters, with an increase in state quota from 2 million pounds to more than 24 million pounds,” said Keliher. “That ten-fold increase in state quota will provide both menhaden and lobster harvesters much-needed certainty in their ability to harvest and source bait.”

The value of Maine scallops in 2022 was $8.7 million, one of the highest in the history of the fishery and making it the fifth most valuable overall for the state last year. Alewife landings increased last year, both in poundage and value. Alewife harvesters caught 3.3 million pounds, an increase of 1.4 million pounds over 2021, and earned $1.5 million; in 2021 the value was $723,291.

The price of elvers jumped by nearly $300 per pound in 2022, resulting in a value of $20,163,965, placing it as the state’s second most valuable commercial fishery. The value of Maine-caught elvers reached $2,131 per-pound, which has only been exceeded twice in the history of the fishery.

Soft shell clams landings were valued at $16,676,325, making the fishery the state’s third most valuable in 2022. “By funding new positions at DMR to address climate change impact on clams and other nearshore species, the state has taken the vital step in supporting the resilience of this and other important fisheries in the nearshore, like mussels, seaweed and worms,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher in a press release.

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