Maine 2018 Lobster Landings bring in Extra Millions

For Maine lobstermen, 2018 wasn’t such a bad year. The value of the catch increased by $46 million compared to 2017. Total landings, according to preliminary data released by the Department of Marine Resources (DMR), were 120 million pounds, worth $484 million, the third-highest total value ever. Landings rose by 8 million pounds, compared to 2017.
The average statewide per-pound price that fishermen were paid for their catch increased from $3.92 to $4.05 per pound. That average makes 2018 the seventh year out of the past 15 years in which Maine lobstermen have earned more than an average of $4 per pound. The highest yearly value of Maine’s lobster landings was in 2016 when fishermen brought $540 million worth of lobster ashore.
The 2018 lobster catch and value totals are based on preliminary counts from reports lobster fishermen and dealers file with the state. The totals are expected to increase slightly over the coming months as more reports are filed or amended.
Lobster landings in Maine began to increase in both volume and value in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s, lobstermen typically landed around 20 million pounds with a cumulative worth of $100 million each year. The value of Maine’s annual catch has topped $400 million each year since 2014 while the volume has exceeded 100 million pounds every year since 2011.
Maine’s lobster fishery is by far the largest and most valuable commercial fishery in Maine and the largest lobster fishery in the country. American lobster was the most valuable single species harvested in the U.S. in 2015, 2016, and 2017, with Maine landings accounting for approximately 80% of that value each year, according to data published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Downeast Maine was well represented in Maine’s top ten ports ranked by the value of the catch landed. For at least the fifth year in a row, Stonington had the highest value of fishery landings valued at more than $59 million. Vinalhaven was second at $38 million, followed by Portland at $35.5 million, Friendship $24 million, Beals $23.5 million, Spruce Head at $16.5 million, Rockland at $13.5 million, Jonesport at $13 million, Cundy’s Harbor at $12 million and Owls Head at $12 million.
Overall, the value of all of Maine’s commercial fisheries last year totaled $637 million, representing the state’s second highest annual multi-species landings value. Lobsters represented more than three-quarters of the total value. The state’s annual catch of herring, used principally for lobster bait, fell last year from 65.4 million pounds to 61.6 million pounds.
The value of Maine’s 2018 elver harvest, which has an annual cap of 9,688 pounds, was $21.7 million, a $9.5 million increase compared to 2017. Maine’s softshell clam harvest increased by more than 250,000 pounds hitting 7.1 million pounds with a value of $12.8 million.