First published in Landings, March, 2015.
In this series we profile some of the young men and women who took part in the Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance’s inaugural Lobster Leader-ship Institute in May, 2014.
Lobsterman Dustin Delano, 24, wanted to learn about the Canadian way of fishing. “I was looking into how to fish fewer traps, spend less time on the water and increase my profits,” he said, recalling his interest in the Lobster Leadership Institute, which included a trip to Prince Edward Island (PEI). “Before I went up there, I was big into the idea that more traps are better.”
What he saw on the island prompted major changes in Delano’s life. In August, 2014, he moved from his home in Friendship out to Monhegan Island, population 69, where he is renting a house and lobstering throughout the winter months. “They only have 300 traps on PEI. I realized I didn’t need 800 traps but I couldn’t do that [reduce traps] in Friendship,” Delano explained.
He and six other lobstermen fish in the Monhegan Lobster Conservation Zone, 30 square miles surrounding the island, from October 1 to early summer and are limited to 400 traps each. The season thus far has been good. “The increase in price has been a huge help,” Delano said. “It will be interesting to see what spring brings.”
Living on an island brings with it many changes in one’s way of life. Delano appears to be handling those changes well. He knows that when the season ends and summer comes around, he will have to put his hand to a different line of work. So he is studying to get his captain’s license in order to begin a charter boat business this year. At first he was considering taking passengers out to haul lobsters with him but, given the strictures of the Monhegan Lobster Conservation Zone and the feelings of his fellow lobstermen on the island, Delano changed his plans. “I want to run it as a sightseeing and fishing charter business,” he said.
In addition, Delano is studying to become a pastor. After some time at the University of Maine and Grove City College, a Christian college in Pennsylvania, Delano enrolled in an online ministry program through Antioch College of Church Planting and Leadership in Iowa. “It’s a non-denominational Christian school. I’m hoping to start a youth ministry on the island this summer with some guys I went to Grove City College with,” Delano said. He attended Advent Christian Church in Friendship before moving to the island.
As part of the Leadership Institute experience, Delano and the other lobstermen learned about the ins and outs of lobster management at the state and regional levels, and also attended a meeting of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s (MLA) board of directors. While many people dislike going to meetings, Delano found that he enjoyed the give and take among the board members. So he started going regularly. Now he’s been nominated to serve on the board. “It’s kind of interesting,” Delano reflected. “It’s a good group. I’ve never felt really welcome to anything like this in the past.”
“It’s nice to see more young people getting involved in the industry. It’s a sign of the lobster industry’s true strength to see more young leaders step up to the plate,” said Patrice McCarron, MLA executive director. “The future belongs these younger guys; it’s great to see people like Dustin getting involved.”