Maine’s lobster industry is changing rapidly. But, amidst near-constant shifts, one constant has held: Stonington, ME remains the top fishing port in Maine for the second year in a row. The port landed close to $51 million in ex-vessel value in 2019, down from nearly $60 million in 2018. Vinalhaven, ME ranked second in the state, landing close to $40 million, followed distantly by Portland ($25.27 million), Friendship ($24.33 million), and Beals ($22.73).
While Stonington remained the top port in the state, it still experienced a nearly $10 million loss over last year. Indeed, Maine commercial lobster landings fell significantly in 2019, from 121,321,163 pounds in 2018 to 100,725,013. With over 20 million pounds of lobster lost to northern waters, the total value of the Maine lobster harvest fell to $491,586,857 (from $485,405,036 in 2018). That said, most producers experienced a 20 percent per-pound increase, making 2019 the fourth most lucrative year, according to the Department of Marine Resources. This per-pound change increased the overall value of Maine’s commercially harvested marine resources (including other types of seafood and products) by more than $26 million. While the 2019 season saw a slow start, it ended strong, picking up significantly in the last few months.
Main Lobster Stays Put – For Now
Last year, we wrote about how Stonington experienced record lobster harvests with new fishing grounds and added lobster traps. In that post, we expressed concern, however, that these boom times were likely to be short-lived. If current projections hold, the Maine lobster population is set to decline between 40 and 62 percent in the next 30 years, which will likely cause economic upheaval in the Pine Tree State. While the marine industry increased in value this year, it is still likely to change significantly in the years and decades to come.
Here’s the good news: The top lobster port in the state has not moved any further north, which is a good sign for many Maine fishers. However, we still expect to see the industry’s migration north to different waters as the years pass on. The total value of the lobster harvest will likely continue to change. For now, though, Maine fishers are celebrating another bountiful and lucrative season in the books.