First published in Landings, August, 2017

Dwight Carver, 63, of Beals Island stepped down from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) board of directors in July. Sonny Beal of Jonesport was appointed to serve the remainder of his term.

Carver has been on the board for more than 20 years. During his tenure the organization found itself embroiled in many contentious issues, twice fighting proposals to allow draggers to land lobsters in Maine. When the National Marine Fisheries Service began promulgating new regulations designed to keep endangered right whales from entanglement in lobster fishing gear, Carver made sure the concerns of his area’s lobstermen on that issue and others were heard, not loudly but clearly.

Dwight Carver at work on a trap. A. Tselikis photo.

“My first impression was that Dwight was a quiet, reserved, thoughtful family man who was highly respected by others,” recalled Patrice McCarron, executive director of the MLA. “Seventeen years later, I realize my first impression was correct. He has that special ability to see beyond many of the details that folks get bogged down in and cut to the heart of the matter.”

“Dwight is a voice of reason on the board. He is passionate about his community and the fisheries that support people there. He doesn’t say a lot but when he does, he makes very good points. He just commands so much respect,” said David Cousens, president of the MLA.

Carver comes from a long line of Beals Island fishermen. During his fishing career, he has been involved in nearly all Maine’s many fisheries, from groundfishing to scalloping. His father was a founding member of the MLA. jWhat many might not know, however, is that Carver was also a renowned high school basketball star. He played all four years for his team at Jonesport-Beals High School, leading his team as point guard to four straight Gold Ball championships. Carver will be inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame’s Legends ranks in August this year. Currently he serves as vice-chair of the Zone A lobster council, he is on the board of the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries and represents Maine on the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team.

“I have had the true pleasure of knowing and working with Dwight for well over 20 years. Dwight has been a vigorous advocate for protecting Downeast lobstermen’s continued access to the fishery, especially the younger generation. He is a man of sincere character who has a true sense of community,” said MLA board member Bob Baines, South Thomaston.

“Dwight keeps the board grounded,” explained Kristan Porter, a lobsterman from Cutler and vice-president of the MLA board. “He’s about family and community and not closing doors to young people in the future. His perspective is that fishermen in western Maine have other ways to make a living but here in Downeast Maine we don’t have those opportunities.” One issue that the MLA board and policymakers in Maine have wrestled with over the years is the idea that a lobsterman be able to sell his license when he finishes fishing to a family member or someone else who is eager to go. Carver remains fully against the notion. “Dwight’s always said that when he’s done, he’s done. The lobster fishery doesn’t owe him anything,” Porter said.

“Dwight is so genuinely grateful for the life the lobster fishery has given to him and his family and he is committed to ensuring that we pass that on to the next generation. He has the gift of foresight to cut to the deeper impacts of management issues and represent the heart and soul of his community and the industry. I am a better person and a more effective representative for the lobster industry because of him,” McCarron added.

“The MLA board is not always on the same page on certain issues. We’ve had some good debates,” said Porter. “But when Dwight speaks, he brings us back to who we are.”