WISCASSET, Maine — Route 1 going through Wiscasset is about to be a bit more congested.
Red's Eats is back in business after its usual seasonal closure with its iconic lobster roll. This year, the starting price is $36, slightly cheaper than $39 in May of last year.
The same issues in Maine's lobster industry still persist with high fuel and bait prices, according to Deb Gagnon, co-owner of Red's.
"Last year was really rough for lobstermen and it still is," Gagnon said.
Gagnon and her employees wore sweaters from the Maine Lobstermen's Association, saying people should buy more local lobster to support the industry.
"They shouldn't have to struggle to make a living or have this regulation on them," Phil Tessier said, who was the first person in line for 2023 at Red's.
Tessier said he waited in line since seven in the morning.
"Opening day is an event, you meet people from all over the place," Kathleen Goetzman, who is married to Tessier.
The two have made going to Red's opening day a tradition in past years.
Gagnon said the turnout has been great for opening day.
"Opening day means summer is on the way... It's been hard for lobstermen and that's why we need to support them," Gagnon said.
The industry as a whole is preparing for a spike in lobster demand as tourism increases in the spring.
Marianne LaCroix with the Lobster Marketing Collaborative said her team put together informational videos to highlight the industry's focus on sustainability.
She said the goal is to show people the lobster industry has done everything it can to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, which is estimated to have fewer than 400 individuals remaining.
Environmental groups have stated previously Maine lobster fishermen and ship strikes pose the greatest risk to the survival of the North Atlantic Right Whale.
"People really need to understand what the fishermen are doing and what the track record is for the fishery and with the whales," LaCroix said. "Sustainability has always been a part of the story."
She said restaurants in Maine do a good job of promoting lobster sustainability, but these videos are meant to promote the industry's sustainability to buyers around the nation.
"The lobstermen are coming off a difficult year last year... we don't know what the season is going to look like but we know people coming to Maine are going to be coming for Maine lobster," LaCroix said.