There are a lot of expenses a young lobsterman must account for: traps, rope, buoys, the various parts and equipment that make his or her boat run smoothly. So it’s a true reflection of their opinion of the value of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association when these young men and women choose to put some of their money into becoming members of the state’s oldest fishing organization.
Troy Plummer, 23, from Boothbay Harbor, has been attending the MLA Board of Directors meetings with MLA board member Mark Jones “to find out about whale stuff and bait,” he said. Plummer has been interested in lobster management issues for some time, traveling to Augusta in previous years to lobby for changes to the lobster license waiting list system. “I think it’s important to go up there and learn about what’s going on,” he said. Joining the MLA made sense to him because of conflicts bubbling up on the horizon, such as possible new protections for North Atlantic right whales resulting from a court case and federal action. “I think the MLA Legal Defense Fund is important. You have to have someone there to protect us,” Plummer said.
Nathaniel Snow, 23, lobsters out of Bass Harbor aboard Miss Chif. He decided to become an MLA member after talking with MLA staff at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in 2018. “I decided that joining the MLA was a good first step to becoming more involved in the fishing community and the many issues facing the industry today,” he explained in an email. “I hope the MLA can bring the fishing community together to fight back against the stricter regulations. We must band together to protect our industry, not only because it is the way we make a living, but the overall impact lobster fishing has on the Maine economy.” Like other lobstermen, he is concerned about changes that may come through new regulations designed to protect right whales as well as the looming bait shortage in 2019.
Nick Pellechia, 22, of Cape Elizabeth, felt that being an MLA member was so important he signed up not only himself but his two younger brothers, who also fish out of Portland. “I sterned for a lobsterman who was a member. A lot of [older lobstermen] are members,” he said concerning his connection to the organization. Pellechia began lobstering when he was 12 years old and moved through the apprentice program to gain his commercial license. But he admits that despite lobstering for ten years, he didn’t really understand the ins and outs of lobster management. “I didn’t know much about the big picture. There’s a lot changing now in terms of rules and regulations,” he said. “I think the MLA is doing a lot to conserve our way of life. Plus there are good benefits, like the vessel insurance program.” Pellechia put his money where his mouth is: he signed up his brother Andrew, 19, with whom he shares his boat Motivation, and his 16-year-old brother Jack, who works as a sternman and runs his own 30 traps, as members as well. “There are things facing us as a group, like a lack of working waterfront and whale rules. The MLA wants to protect us,” he said simply.