Following 2021’s historically high values for Maine’s commercially harvested marine resources, harvesters in 2022 earned $574 million, an amount that is consistent with more recent history, according to preliminary data released from the Maine Department of Marine Resources on March 3.
While overall value represents a 37 percent drop compared to 2021, it tracks with the average value of all Maine commercially harvested marine resources between 2011 and 2020, which was $586 million.
Maine lobstermen landed 97.9 million pounds and earned by far the most of all the state’s commercial fisheries at $388.5 million. The per-pound value of $3.97 was on par with the average boat price of the decade prior to 2021, but a significant reduction from the all-time high that year of $6.71 per pound.
The result was an overall value decline from 2021 of $353.6 million.
“Maine’s lobstermen were facing tremendous uncertainty about their future last year over pending federal whale regulations, compounded by the high costs for bait and fuel,” said Gov. Janet Mills. “Yet they still brought to shore nearly 100 million pounds of quality Maine lobster, which reflects this industry’s resilience when confronted with a difficult and dynamic economic environment.”
The value of Maine scallops in 2022 reached $8.7 million, one of the highest in the history of the fishery…
The lower landings may not speak to a decline in lobster population.
Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association board, told Maine Public that harvesters did not fish as often in 2022, given the lower boat prices. DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher told WCSH-TV that lobstermen took 50,000 fewer fishing trips in 2022.
On the strength of a per-pound increase of nearly $300, Maine’s elver harvesters earned $20 million in 2022, placing it as the state’s second most valuable commercial fishery. The value of Maine-caught elvers reached $2,131 per pound, which has only been exceeded twice in the history of the fishery.
Soft shell clams netted Maine harvesters $16.6 million, ranking the fishery as the state’s third most valuable in 2022.
“By funding new positions at DMR to address climate change impact on clams and other nearshore species, the state has taken the vital step in supporting the resilience of this and other important fisheries in the nearshore, like mussels, seaweed, and worms,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher.
At $12 million, the value of Maine’s menhaden landings in 2022 increased by more than $1.6 million over 2021 and ranked the popular lobster bait as Maine’s fourth most valuable fishery.
“Maine achieved a major win in 2022 for both lobster and menhaden harvesters, with an increase in state quota from two million pounds to more than 24 million pounds,” said Keliher. “That ten-fold increase in state quota will provide both menhaden and lobster harvesters much-needed certainty in their ability to harvest and source bait.”
The value of Maine scallops in 2022 reached $8.7 million, one of the highest in the history of the fishery and making it the fifth most valuable overall for the state last year.
An additional bright spot for Maine harvesters was the jump in landings and value for alewives, another important lobster bait. Alewife harvesters caught 3.3 million pounds, an increase of 1.4 million pounds over 2021, and earned $1.5 million, an increase from the previous year of over $800,000.
“The work of our harvesters, dealers, and processors to sustain our resources and deliver the world’s best seafood is something for all Mainers to take pride in,” said Keliher. “I urge all Maine people to support our fishermen and coastal communities by enjoying Maine seafood.”
To locate a dealer selling seafood from Maine, visit www.seafoodfrommaine.com.
Reports for all species can be found at www.maine.gov/dmr/fisheries/commercial/landings-program/historical-data.