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Steaming Ahead | April 2024

I don’t think anyone likes getting older. Your knees hurt, your shoulders ache, your hearing is shot, and getting out of bed in the morning is no fun at all. Decades of fishing sure take their toll on you.

The 2024 Maine Lobstermen's Association Board of Directors.

On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for getting older because you get smarter and overall, a little wiser. You don’t make the same mistakes you did when you were young (you make different ones!) and you are more thoughtful, and even more cautious, about what you say and do.

That’s why it was a sad moment to see some of the longest serving members of the Maine Lobstermen's Association's board of directors step down at our annual meeting in March. These guys brought a lot of wisdom to the MLA over the years. That wisdom came from the years they have spent on the water, at meetings, and just being alive.

John Williams, always accompanied by his wife Judy, made it to every board meeting where he shared his common sense and open-mindedness. Jack Merrill — MLA’s longest serving board member — has helped to guide the association during the tenures of Ed Blackmore, David Cousens, Pat White, Patrice McCarron and now me on so many difficult issues that I can’t even name them all. Dustin Delano isn’t old in years but he really stepped up in a big way and provided thoughtful leadership, helping the MLA to push boundaries on some issues.

Jamien Hallowell filled the big shoes left by his mentor, Arnie Gamage, and was a quiet but thoughtful member of the board. These gentlemen have left their mark on our industry and we will miss them.

Now the MLA is happy to welcome some new faces and perspectives to the board with new board members Richard Howland of Islesford, Brian Billings of Deer Isle, Andy Havener of Friendship, and Adam Gamage of South Bristol to the board. These guys will bring a jolt of new blood to the board, and I’m looking forward to working with them to guide the MLA and its future.

These changes are part of what makes the MLA so strong. MLA has always attracted leaders, well-respected lobstermen who bring varying points of view to the organization. Each person who serves on the board comes from a specific part of the coast which you can bet they know like the back of their hands. They bring that knowledge and perspective to the board when we have to deal with hard topics, like offshore wind development or gauge changes, yet are able to focus on what’s good for the fishery as a whole when decisions have to be made.

The older board members provide historic knowledge as they can remember what it was like before the Gulf of Maine’s lobster boom when just about no one fished offshore. It was a different world. Think of it: just 40 years ago we harvested around 19.5 million pounds of lobster. That’s really not that long ago.

The younger board members represent our future. They bring an understanding of social media, new technology, and marketing that’s so important today. They have a different take on the lobster fishery and a deep anxiety about its future.

Being part of the MLA, as a board member, business supporter or member, means you are part of its long and rich history. Decade by decade, the MLA has made sure that Maine lobstermen, their families, and their communities can make a living on the water. Each decade has presented different challenges, calling for different skills and commitment from the board and members. But as the decades keep rolling by, the MLA always gets the job done, whatever the crisis is at the time.

I want to welcome our new board members and everyone who has joined the MLA for the first time. You are joining an old but wise organization that I am extremely proud to be a part of.

Some faces may change, but we are as strong as ever!


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