Maine – 18369 Miles Driven.
Lobster fishing is big business in the sate of Maine; half of American lobsters are caught in its waters. There’s never been a better time to be a lobster fisherman, and I had the absolute privilege of spending time with one of them.
I met Adam at Rockland Fish Pier as he and his team of two, Zach and Coleman, began unloading the 850lbs. of lobster they’d caught that day. 90lb. buckets were weighed and promptly dispatched to the customers who’d already agreed to buy them. Boat cleaned and 800lbs. of bait loaded for the next day of fishing, I joined Adam on the boat as he steered it back to the nearby town of Rockport where he keeps it moored.
2015 represented a bumper year for Maine’s lobster fisherman who landed a record $495 million catch. In fact according to Adam the last few years have all been pretty good. He speculates that global warming might have something to do with the current boom in lobster numbers, and demand for Maine lobster particularly in Asian markets is at an all time high. If you want to get a slice of the pie you’ll have to wait in line. There are only a finite amount of Maine commercial lobster licenses, and it’s takes five of them to be handed back for one to be released.
But Adam is the first to admit that being a lobster fisherman is hard work, however lucrative business might be at the moment. Each morning from 6am will be spent hauling and unloading up to 350 of Adam’s lobster traps. Maine fishing laws dictate that every single one of the lobsters caught have to be measured. The length of the lobster’s carapace or body must measure between 3.25 – 5 inches. If they fall outside of this range or if they’re female and pregnant, or female and marked, they have to be thrown back into the ocean. Adam has 800 lobster traps in total, which is the maximum number allowed per commercial fisherman. Lobster season in Maine is all year round, but outside of July – December when Adam fishes, you have to take the boat further out into deeper seas to catch them. Adam doesn’t get to put his feet up, and during the months he’s not fishing for lobsters, he’ll be doing boat maintenance and deep-sea diving for sea urchins.
It was a short but beautiful ride, and when we eventually pulled up in Rockport we were met by a number of other lobster fishermen who were winding down for the day. One was Adam’s stepbrother whom he seems to have a friendly rivalry with, and Sadie Samuels who is one of a small but growing number of women who do this as profession.
Adam very kindly gifted me with a few of the day’s catch that were soon to become dinner. My homemade lobster rolls may not necessarily rank highly when compared to the countless numbers being sold for the going rate of $20 each, but the experience of spending time with the men and women that catch these fascinating creatures for a living was priceless.