Reposted from Maine Lobster Festival
A snapshot of the “Perfect Storm” challenges facing the industry
Unless you’ve been closely following the news in Maine, you probably don’t realize that lobstering as an industry is getting assailed on all sides — and it is deeply and negatively impacting nearly 5,000 lobstermen and their families up and down the coast.
In early September, the environmental group Seafood Watch assigned a “red rating” designation, which discourages individuals and organizations from purchasing Maine and Canadian lobster. The group claims that lobster gear may be responsible for harming the endangered North Atlantic right whales.
This rating system has influenced retailers and food service providers since 1999. Since this designation, several national companies have stopped buying lobster for their products, which has negatively impacted lobstermen already having a rough summer with high fuel and bait prices, as well as low prices per catch.
This is on top of the National Marine Fisheries Service rule implementing new regulations under the federal government’s whale protection plan. The fishermen implemented the new regulations in 2022, but NMFS is in the process of developing additional regulations that will go into effect within the next two years. Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) sued NMFS, arguing that NFMS acted arbitrarily and that the plan doesn’t utilize an objective assessment of the best available data. They maintain that the plan will all but eliminate the lobster fishery, yet still fail to save the endangered whales. On Sept. 8, a federal judge rejected MLA’s lawsuit challenging the data, a ruling that MLA and the State appealed in federal court. MLA submitted a motion for expedited consideration of its appeal, which the federal court granted on Oct. 18.
FACT: There has not been a single known right whale entanglement in Maine lobster gear in almost 20 years.
FACT: Maine lobster gear has never been linked to a right whale death.
FACT: Maine lobstermen have been implementing whale conservation efforts for the last two decades, including modifying and developing innovative gear solutions — at their own expense.
In compliance with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) regulations, lobstermen have, “applied gear markings; implemented sinking ground lines; have moved to weaker lines; inserted ‘weak links’ into vertical lines; and increased the size of their trawls to reduce the number of vertical lines in the water. Through these efforts, the Maine lobster fishery has removed an estimated 30,000 miles of line from the water in order to protect whale species,” according to a statement by Maine Independent Senator Angus King.
For generations, lobstermen have committed to the long-term sustainability of the ocean and the fishery, and care deeply about the preservation of the right whale species. They know their territories like the back of their hands and use colored markings on their lines, so if a right whale ever became entangled, federal officials would know where it occurred.
Except it hasn’t. That’s the point Maine lobstermen like Scarborough lobsterman Greg Turner recently made in a WGME article: Maine lobster gear has never been linked to a right whale death.
“I’ve seen gear that they’ve retrieved from these whales,” Turner said. “And I’ve gone and looked at it. And none of it come from anything that we would use.” Turner pointed out what most lobstermen have been telling officials and at public hearings, “that most right whale deaths are from ship strikes and entanglements in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence.”
According to a statement by the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, “NMFS has overestimated the lobster industry’s risk to right whales by cherry-picking the science by using unsupported assumptions and ‘worst-case scenarios’ to justify its mandate for Maine’s lobster fishery to reduce its already minimal risk to right whales by 98 percent. MLA claims that NMFS also failed to follow mandatory legal requirements to assess the economic and social costs of their action.”
While the litigation is ongoing there are ways you, a private citizen, can help preserve this industry from a catastrophic shutdown.
How Can You Help
You know who is going to thank you for serving lobster as the main dish this Thanksgiving?
Turkeys and Maine lobstermen.
With everything up against Maine’s lobstermen lately (as discussed in our recent blog on the mounting challenges facing the lobster industry) and the biggest price drop seen in years, this is the year to switch up your traditional Thanksgiving menu.
As the first Thanksgiving meal eaten by pilgrims in November, 1621, it’s wholly appropriate to serve lobster as the main dish or as one of the sides. We have included a few recipes below.
If you live in Maine buy lobster directly from a lobsterman or from a reputable seafood store. Or if you live out of state, buy them online from a sustainable fishmonger like Luke’s Lobster or Maine Lobster Now.
Main Dish: Stuffed Lobster Tails
A more sophisticated (and lighter calorie) main dish uses stuffed lobster tails in place of the traditional bird with one tail per person. This video shows you the most humane way to dispatch a lobster and this tutorial shows you how to separate the tail from the body and butterfly the meat.
The Thanksgiving flavors come out when stuffed with herbed breadcrumbs and drizzled with white wine reduction, as described by Cooking Light’s Executive Food Editor Ann Pittman. Broil one to two minutes and drizzle with sauce.
Get The Full Recipe
Side: Lobster Stuffing
Instead of traditional stuffing—let lobster take center stage! Combine center-cut bacon, one loaf sesame semolina bread cut into half-inch cubes, and seven ounces of fresh-picked lobster meat. With sautéed yellow onion and garlic lending a savory fragrance to this dish, a little lobster goes a long way in this comfort dish, serving eight people.
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Side: Lobster Mashed Potato
Talk about decadent! This will be the dish your guests dig into the most. Start with a 1½ pound boiled lobster—and save the stock. After shelling and chopping up the meat, put some of the shells in a new pot of boiling water with 1½ pounds of chopped Yukon Gold potatoes to enrich the flavor. The additional step of lightly browning the cooked lobster meat in butter adds a rich layer to traditional mashed potatoes.
Get The Full Recipe
Side: Green Bean and Lobster Casserole
Lobster is like the little black dress of the culinary world—it can be dressed up and accessorized with just about any food. In this case, with a plain old green bean casserole, it’s not just a side dish—it’s a statement. This side calls for two cups of fresh, sliced green beans, ½ cup button mushrooms, and 1 pound cooked lobster meat. Layer in a can of cream of mushroom soup with the crunch of Ritz crackers and fried onions, and you’re good to go.
Get The Full Recipe
This Thanksgiving, put lobster on the menu and you will be supporting Maine families when they need it most.
The Maine Lobster festival (August 2-6, 2023) will be free again next year. Follow our website for more details: https://mainelobsterfestival.com/
Reprinted from the Maine Lobster Festival blog.
My lobstermen friends have had a weird summer. The weather has been awesome, the catch is pretty good, but everything is more expensive, such as fuel, bait, repairs, etc, and the price of lobster this summer is historically low. So, every year, Maine Lobster Week honors the hard-working lobstermen. (See below post to see what else they are up against).
Maine Lobster Week is a statewide lobster celebration starting September 19 and concluding on National Lobster Day, September 25. Find lobster shacks, food trucks, and fine dining with everything from lobster rolls to lobster Bloody Mary's, to decadent three-course menus, at participating dining locations from Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor. Did you know? Locally if you live near a Hannaford Supermarkets, you can buy lobster and they can steam it for you in 15 minutes to take home. Or if you're out of state, these fine places ship lobster to your house.
I try to do something every year for Maine Lobster Week. This year, I'll be doing an informal chat and book-signing about the film and the book at the two locations above.
The Maine Lobster Festival is ON! Downtown Rockland will come roaring back to life for the 75th annual Maine Lobster Festival Aug. 3-7, 2022. After two years of being on hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are thrilled to bring you a seafood festival that’s bigger and better than ever before. Read on to see what changes are in store.
There will be no admission fee this year. “After a two-year hiatus with the Festival, we really wanted to offer free admission on top of this being our 75th anniversary to give back to the community,” said Celia Knight, MLF President. “Whether you come just 15 minutes or come for all five days, we want everybody to enjoy the celebration.”
The Festival will no longer have carnival rides, but don’t worry. We are offering plenty of “greener” family fun activities including industrial play sets donated by CedarWorks, a rock climbing wall, a petting zoo, an arcade room for the teens, pony rides, bouncy houses, games of chance, and a larger tent for the children’s activities.
A Heritage Tent that explores the history of the Festival is a new feature in honor of Maine lobstermen and the businesses that support the Maine lobster industry. It also honors our historical community involvement and volunteers.
The Festival wouldn’t be complete without our “fan favorite” activities, such as the Great International Lobster Crate Race, the 5K & 10K races, the Big Parade, the seafood cooking contest, the Maine Sea Goddess Coronation, the Marine Tent and the Arts and Crafts Tent, along with exciting new Maine bands on the main stage.
Steins & Vines and a New Craft Beer & Wine Tent
If you love sipping on Maine-crafted beers and wines at Steins & Vines, this year the Festival will have two sessions on Thursday and Friday in the North Entertainment Tent. “We’ll also have a Craft Beer and Wine Tent, sponsored by Dogfish Brewing Co,” Knight said. “We’ll have eight different taps, including hard cider and wine from local purveyors. And, if you want a lobster roll or dinner, you’ll be able to enjoy it at table seating in the Beer and Wine Tent.”
“There will be plenty of fair food at the Festival,” Knight said. “We’ll have fried dough, popcorn, cotton candy, lemonade and other typical fair food.”
And, of course, there’s the lobster.
People come to Rockland for some of the most delicious seafood in the world and MLF has plenty of it. The Maine Eating Tent will have 20,000 pounds of fresh-caught lobster as well as the full lobster dinner, while the nearby The Lobster Café will be serving lobster rolls, lobster mac ‘n cheese, lobster bisque, lobster-stuffed risotto balls and lobster wontons.
Also new this year will be homemade chowders, including a gluten-free seafood chowder. We’ll also have the 75th anniversary cookbook containing some of the most delectable homestyle recipes made from locally caught seafood, so you can take it home and try out new dishes yourself. Get more details.
“We’re also going to have fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday night to celebrate the 75th anniversary,” Knight said.
Make your plans now to come to the 2022 Maine Lobster Festival Aug. 3-7, 2022. We also love volunteers! Find out more at https://mainelobsterfestival.com
Blog post originally published on The Maine Lobster Festival website.
Note: This story originally appeared on Maine Lobster Festival's blog.
The 2021 battle of the pigskin will be held on Sunday, Feb. 7. Even though there may not be many big parties for the big game, it will still be a time to celebrate with close family and friends in your pod. If you want to go all out and wow your guests, here are some of our favorite game day party food recipes.
The Classic Lobster Roll
Nothing reminds us more of summer in the midst of a cold February day than sweet, tender chunks of fresh Maine lobster inside a warm, grilled split-top hot dog bun. Mainers are quite particular about how the “proper” lobster roll is done (as was hotly debated in one of our past blogs). A hearty portion of claw, tail and knuckle meat is mixed with mayonnaise, celery, and a dash of salt and pepper. Get the Classic Lobster Roll recipe.
Lobster Salad Cups
This version of a mini lobster roll is nestled in a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry. Combine the same ingredients as the lobster roll above, but in smaller portions. Serve the cold lobster mixture atop the warm, golden puff pastry. One of the simplest, yet fancy snacks to make, these delicious appetizers are not going to last long on the platter. Get the Lobster Salad Cups recipe.
Lobster Street Tacos
Street-style tacos (traditionally served from carts or stands) have made a roaring comeback on the culinary scene. To give them an extra special Maine twist, use pre-cooked and picked lobster meat. With corn tortillas (three to a plate) as the carrier, top with traditional fillings such as pickled cabbage, radish, cilantro and a kick of fresh lime and avocado crema. Get the Lobster Street Tacos recipe.
Lobster Bisque Fondue
Think cheese and lobster don’t go together? (Lobster mac and cheese lovers will fight you on that). This delicious Game Day recipe takes a bit of work but presents an attractive platter when done. The key to the flavor is the lobster stock, so keep that leftover boiled water after the lobster is cooked. Use a 1-1/2 pounds or two small one-pound lobsters and combine with gruyere cheese, garlic, dry white wine, a little brandy and lemon. Keep warm in a crockpot or use a Sterno fuel can underneath and serve with cubed bread, colorful veggies and cold, cooked shrimp. Get the Lobster Bisque Fondue recipe.
Fresh, live lobster is the only way to make these crowd-pleasing dishes. Buy local whenever possible. Here’s a list of reputable and trusted suppliers of Maine’s most famous crustacean.
For more delicious Maine lobster recipes, our blogs are your go-to source for Maine’s most iconic dish. Be sure to keep this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Aug. 4-8 in your 2021 plans.
THOMASTON—On Thursday, Dec. 24, a crowd of 30-40 people gathered in a line at noon, plastic bags in hand, in an empty parking lot off New County Road.
Standing at the back of his pick up truck, Matinicus lobsterman Noah Ames played the proverbial role of Santa, giving away crates of live lobster for free that he and about six other Midcoast lobstermen caught, banded, and transported so that people in the area could have a good Christmas Eve dinner.
During an unprecedented Christmas season, with Americans across the nation suffering economically awaiting a long-delayed $900 billion coronavirus relief package that has still yet to be signed by President Trump and with unemployment benefits set to expire in a matter of days, many people have had to choose between buying food and paying bills.
Ames, with his friend, assisting, chatted with folks as they stepped up to the truck, bag in hand. Given how many people were standing in line, he announced he could only give away four lobsters to each family, with extra to veterans, in the form of a Hannaford gift card he additionally handed out.
Ames started this tradition in 2014. In former stories Pen Bay Pilot has written about Ames over the years, he said, “It’s about teaching my sons the spirit of Christmas. It’s important to learn how to give back.”
Many grateful people left with their bags of lobster, parting with sentiments of “Merry Christmas” and “You’re doing a wonderful thing.”
At a time when every bit of kindness and generosity is coming from Mainers helping Mainers, Ames and his lobstermen friends are an example to the leaders in this country.
This story originally appeared on www.penbaypilot.com
As a reporter for a local newspaper, I often cover lobstering stories in Maine and occasionally come across some very cool things that Maine crafters and artists are making around the lobster theme. I really strive to put a spotlight on the creatives. Here is my 2020 Shop Local Gift Guide for the person in your life who loves Maine lobster and our beautiful state.
The original Lobstah Beer Caddy and Dog Food Station
Joe Hamilton is the artist behind these lobster trap creations and the first in the state to create the lobster trap caddy, perfect for six of Maine's best craft beers. You can find these on Etsy for $39.99 The pet stand, also made from the same galvanized wire that lobstermen use to construct traps are custom made. Made for small, medium and large dogs ($60/$85/$150). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for orders.
Maine Snowflake Ornaments
Tenley is a self-taught jewlery designer who also once worked as a sternman on her boyfriend's lobster boat, (now husband!) Hating to see lobster shells thrown away after consumption, she got the idea to make beautiful ornaments and jewelry from discarded shells from lobsters, mussels and oysters--and tell the back story to each one as it related to area lobstermen. To find her creations ($25/ornaments and vibrant red jewelry visit her Etsy store, Lobster Designs.
Rugged Lives of Female Lobstermen
Camden author Ali Farell's second book, showcases the strength of Maine’s female fishermen, titled Pretty Rugged: True Stories From Women of the Sea. “Fishing is a lifestyle, not a job,” Farrell commented in a Penobscot Bay Pilot article. “To be a successful fisherman, you must devote your life to working extremely hard in very dangerous conditions.”
The book is finally available for preorder on Amazon ($32.99) with shipments anticipated in time for Christmas. FMI: Facebook.
Gourmet Lobster Crackers
In 2012, Pat Havener and her husband, Friendship lobsterman Greg Havener, were trying to brainstorm ways to make up lost income from the plummeting price of lobster. They came up with two ideas: lobster crackers for dogs and lobster crackers for people. The crackers, which are the only type of its kind in the U.S., were named “Best New Product—Specialty Food” in spring of 2015 at the New England Made Giftware Specialty Food Show. See my story on at Penobscot Bay Pilot
You can buy a box ($10) on their website
Note: this story was originally published on Maine Lobster Festival's blog
This Thanksgiving will look different for many people around the country, but one thing is constant: hard shell Maine lobster is plentiful in November and prices are very reasonable leading up to Christmas. Plus, lobster is one of the most historically traditional food sources other than turkey in New England. So choose one of the four following lobster dishes to bring as a guest, or serve them all for your own Thanksgiving meal.
Pumpkin Soup With Creole Lobster
This recipe by Food and Wine Magazine promises a balance of deep, earthy flavor using produce in season (sugar pumpkins or butternut squash) as the base. A 1-pound lobster is all you need, along with dry white wine and 1/2-cup crème fraîche, complete with herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cumin and cayenne to give this dish its spicy Creole tang. This is a hearty, comfort-food opener to the rest of the meal. Get the Pumpkin Soup With Creole Lobster recipe.
Mini Brioche Lobster Rolls
This easy hors d’oeuvre is simply an open-faced slider crossed with Maine’s most iconic lobster roll, so make plenty, because they will be scooped off the tray as soon as you put it down. Using 3/4-pound of chopped, cooked lobster meat, with a bit of mayonnaise, tarragon and lemon zest, this recipe needs nothing more than 12 mini brioche or Parker House rolls with the tops cut off to make a stunning presentation. Get the Mini Brioche Lobster Rolls recipe
Stuffed Lobster Tails
Native Americans and Pilgrims were most certainly dining on Maine lobster for the first Thanksgiving, namely because it was so easy to catch by wading into the shore. But you can gussy it up with this Cooking Light recipe by serving lobster tails stuffed with herbed breadcrumbs and a white wine reduction. This entrée is perfectly portioned for each person at the table. And even though it’s drizzled with a delicious wine, thyme and shallot sauce right at the end, this dish only tops out at 234 calories per tail. Get the Stuff Lobster Tails recipe.
Buttery Lobster and Bacon Stuffing
For die-hard turkey lovers this November, you can still slip in the taste of Maine lobster with this stuffing recipe. With Jones Dairy Farm dry-aged cherrywood smoked bacon providing the salt, pan-seared onion and garlic giving off the savory, and 7 ounces of sweet, tender Maine lobster rounding it out, all you need is a piping hot baking dish of semolina bread cubes smothered in butter and the above ingredients to take center stage over that turkey at the table. Guaranteed. Get the Buttery Lobster and Bacon Stuffing recipe.
Deer Isle native is a viral hit...and hoot...about all things lobster
Columns and news about the subculture of Maine lobstering.