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Maine lobster brought in less money in 2022 than in 2021

Factors like fuel and bait prices combined with uncertainty in the industry provoked the drop in sales, which experts said was expected.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Maine lobster brought in 47 percent less money in 2022 than in 2021, new data from the Department of Marine Resources shows.

The drop in income comes from a combination of high fuel and bait prices, along with uncertainty in the industry from ongoing legal battles, those in the industry said.

The dip in income was also expected, those same industry people said, as 2021 saw incredible sales numbers for Maine lobster.

"Two summers ago was our dream year," Addison Ames Jr, a lobsterman from Vinalhaven, said. "Two years ago, we got the highest price we ever got. Oh man, it was a sweet year."

Ames, 68, said he's fished on the island his entire life with his brother, and the ongoing legal battle surrounding the industry puts uncertainty in its future.

"If we don't get a decent price this year, it won't make any difference what the laws say. We won't be here," Ames said. 

Ames added the recent government legislation to push any new lobster regulation until 2029 is just delaying more hard questions.

"I mean, we have to fight for another six years. It would be better if we did it now. Six years from now will anything change?"

Maine lobster also dropped in the number of pounds harvested in 2022 compared to 2021.

Fishers brought in 97 million pounds of lobster in 2022 compared to 110 million in 2021.

"That's a thing fishermen deal with on a yearly basis. You're always worried about how much you're going to catch, and how much you're going to get for it," Kristan Porter, board president for the Maine Lobstermen's Association, said. 

He said in the MLA's presentation, the group is hoping their court appeal can go through. The appeal, Porter said, would invalidate a judge's opinion that the lobster industry does not do enough to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale.

"A decision in our favor only keeps the fight going. It gives us time to fight and to give the federal government time to use real science to regulate the fishery," Porter said.

More time is exactly what the lobster industry has been vouching for, as the next generation of fishermen is increasing the workload.

"I think one day I was like, 'Oh, this is fun. I want to keep doing it,'" Jocelyne Coombs said. Coombs is 18 and fishes off Orr's Island. 

"It's everything, honestly. I'm on the water all the time during the summer, and I really like going."

Coombs added that her father fishes while her mom, Monique Coombs, works for the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association.

The teen is upgrading her gear from 150 traps to 400 this summer.

"I feel like we are going to have to keep fighting to keep the future going," Jocelyne Coombs said.

The full updated list of commercial landings for Maine's fisheries can be found on the Department of Marine Resource website.

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