The Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance in action

First published in Landings, April, 2013.

A long time ago someone, somewhere made a quietly profound statement: “Knowledge is power.” Knowing what’s happening now in the world of fisheries management, what happened in the past, and what could possibly be on the horizon for the future adds greatly to a lobsterman’s power. So, in order to make knowledge readily available to anyone interested in Maine’s lobstering industry, the Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance (MLCA) has made all issues of Landings, once known as the MLA newsletter, available in searchable form on its Web site.

Landings is the MLCA’s monthly publication which offers articles on marine science, resource sustainability, economic development and the people that make up Maine’s fishing communities. Through Landings, MLCA educates the public and lobster industry about the characteristics of Maine’s lobstering traditions, its history and heritage, research undertaken to maintain lobster populations, and lobstermen’s stewardship practices.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance Web page now features all past newsletters in a searchable format.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance Web page now features all past newsletters in a searchable format.

Recently the MLCA completed transference of the newsletter contents from 2009 to the present into an archival form on its Web site (www.mlcalliance.org). Organized into five categories — Community Voices, Management, Science, People, and Miscellaneous – the hundreds of articles published on everything from right whale physiology to the 2013 herring season can be searched by topic. Anyone, from a fisherman who wants to know the current members of the state’s Marine Resources Committee to a high school student interested in the history of Maine’s lobster cooperatives, can search the newsletters with a click of the keyboard. Articles can be searched by the date they were published, key words within the story, title, author, or category by simply using the search bar on the News page of the MLCA Web site. Each issue of Landings, and previous MLA Newsletters, are also available to download as pdf files.

The MLCA’s mission is to foster thriving coastal communities and preserve Maine’s lobstering heritage. MLCA achieves its charitable mission through programs in education, research and charity. Landings is just one of the tools the MLCA uses to educate both local and distant communities, but it is the feedback on this tool that drives its publication. Without letters, questions, and ideas from lobstermen or other industry people, Landings would not be successful in educating its readers. Interaction and discussions are important.

Another tool MLCA uses to interact with interested parties is Facebook. Through the MLCA Facebook page, the organization is able to respond to individual questions and concerns and provide up to date information on happenings in lobstering communities. It is also a great place to share pictures of interesting marine finds and MLCA events. And MLCA has recently launched its website to provide general information about the organization and its programs.

Landings could not exist without the help of MLCA’s advertisers and the newsletter’s sponsors. Their generous contributions each month cover the cost of producing the publication and mailing it for free to all of Maine’s lobstermen and other industry stakeholders. These companies represent an important part of Maine’s diverse fishing industry. Economists have said that each dollar earned by a Maine fisherman multiplies three times in the local economy as that fisherman buys his fuel, bait, boat equipment and groceries from local businesses. The dollars contributed by the MLCA’s sponsors and advertisers are the foundation of Landings, dollars which now have multiplied into broad public access to information about Maine’s lobster industry through the new searchable Web site.