First printed in Landings, June, 2016.
For the past 62 years the Maine Lobstermen’s Association has advocated for lobstermen from all parts of the Maine coast. Its longevity is due to the men and women who make up its membership. Staying strong and relevant means successfully drawing new members into the association year after year.
Sam Joy, 23, of Swan’s Island joined the MLA while attending the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in March this year. He had thought of joining off and on over the years until finally a fellow lobsterman put the pressure on. “Jason Joyce recruited me,” Joy explained. “Then I was at the Forum and learned more about what the MLA does in D.C. and Augusta and I thought, why not?” Joy also was intrigued by the MLA’s vessel insurance program which offers very competitive rates on insurance policies offered through Smithwick and Mariner Inc. of Falmouth. “My rate went up for this year so I’m interested in that,” Joy said.
Thomas McLennan, 23, of South Thomaston became an MLA member at the Forum as well. “I don’t know why I didn’t do it before,” he admitted. He had been thinking of getting a new boat and realized that he could get a significant discount on one built by SW Boatworks if he was an MLA member. “And I think the MLA does good things and wanted to support it,” he added.
In Boothbay Harbor, Andy Page, 28, thought it made sense to be part of an organization that was “doing good things for the business,” as he put it. So he became a member earlier this winter. “The MLA has been fighting against the whale rules and so forth,” he said. “Quite a few lobstermen around here are members.”
For Donald Schwab, 28, of Port Clyde, being an MLA member is something of a family tradition. “My grandfather [Charles Schwab] kept after me to sign up. I got the papers and things in the mail but I guess I lost them. Then I signed up online. Super easy,” he said. Schwab is the third generation of his family to be an MLA member. He likes the MLA newsletter but for him the information he gets via the MLA’s Eweekly email on Friday is more valuable. “I do everything online,” he explained.
It’s remarkable for anything to last 62 years. Credit for the MLA’s long tenure goes to its members and the MLA board of directors, who continue to make sure that Maine lobstermen have a united voice at the state, regional and federal level. Thanks to new members like these, the MLA looks forward to many more years doing the same.