First published in the MLA Newsletter, June, 2012.
“I wanted to be involved with the MLA to represent lobstering downeast,” MLA Board Director Kristan Porter said. “Every part of the state fishes a little bit differently, so it’s important to have your voice heard for your area.” Porter, 41, has been lobstering from Cutler throughout his life and was elected to the MLA Board of Directors in 2003.
Lobster is not the only fishery Porter’s involved in. He also holds a federal permit for scallops and quahogs. His involvement with fishing industry associations started in 1991 when he became a member of the Downeast Draggers Association. Porter also has served on the Maine Fishermen’s Forum Board of Directors for 16 years, and was elected president three years ago.
As a full-time lobsterman, Porter believes it’s important to be a member of the MLA. “I think everybody, especially the younger guys, should be aware of what’s going on,” he said. “A lot of things happen in the industry, and a lot of things don’t happen because of the MLA,” he said, referring to some proposed policy changes that would have been detrimental to the industry. Porter acknowledges that it’s difficult for the younger generation of lobstermen to join an industry association. He can relate, with three kids at home. “With so many other things in life, it’s hard for people to commit to meetings each month,” he said. For Porter, however, it’s worth the time commitment. “You get to know people up and down the coast. It’s good to understand how everyone is fishing,” he said.
“We have a great board,” Porter said about the MLA. “I hope everyone knows how hard the board works for the state and for the people who make their living fishing. It’s not a western or eastern Maine fishery. We do what’s best for all full time fishermen.”
Mike Myrick of Cushing also makes time to be on the board of the MLA. “I was involved in various things throughout the years. It was really just the natural progression of things to join the MLA,” Myrick said. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 2005.
Myrick, 60, has been fishing full-time in Zone D since 1971. He got his lobster license when he was seven years old. “I’ve always had an interest in the MLA, way back to the days of Ed Blackmore,” he said. “I always tried to keep in touch and always was a firm believer in the MLA.” Myrick was on the Zone D Council for ten years, starting in 1996, and was a representative from Zone D to the Lobster Advisory Council. “I’d rather know what’s coming and be proactive, not reactive,” he explained about his involvement. “I like to know what’s coming down the road rather than sit around and guess. I’ve been around too long to do that.”
Myrick also volunteered this past January to join Heather Tetreault, MLA’s whale projects coordinator, and fellow MLA director Bobby Ingalls on a right whale survey trip. “That was a real eye-opening experience,” Myrick said. The day was spent recording sightings of right whales in Jordan Basin and the Cashes Ledge area on a 112-foot catamaran. “It was worth the trip and worth the day off from fishing,” he said.
In 2006, Myrick received the MLA Golden V Notch Award, the association’s highest honor, at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum banquet. The award was created to recognize an industry member who has gone “above and beyond the call of duty” in an effort to maintain a healthy resource and fishery for Maine lobstermen. “I was really proud,” Myrick said about receiving the award. “If I can be supportive in any way, I’ll do it as long as I can.”
Being part of the MLA board has proved to be a valuable experience for Myrick.
“I’ve met a lot of really great people along the way. It’s been a good ride and worthwhile. I enjoy the directors meetings. It’s a good time to get together and talk with other fishermen up and down the coast. You can sit down and get a real sense of what’s going on. For the young fellows who have the opportunity to get involved, they should. I wish I had started younger!”