There’s no doubt that Maine lobstermen are feeling anxious about the future. While only time will tell what the fishery will look like future years, one thing is clear: lobstermen are making sure their voices are heard. And they are doing that by joining the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA).
Ken Beebe has been fishing out of Harpswell since 1980. His 26’ General Marine boat hits the water twice a week when he fishes his singles inshore. Monday through Friday, Beebe runs a high-end painting company and has an oyster aquaculture farm in front of his home in South Harpswell. He is passionate and knowledgeable about Maine’s lobster fishery. “People need to understand how hard we work,” he said. He acknowledges that part of his motivation to join the MLA for the first time recently was the exceptional deal he got on his vessel insurance, however he is quick to noted that he joined because he believes the MLA needs money to address issues like the herring shortage and right whale regulations. “I feel as though I have better notes on what’s going on [by being a member],” Beebe said. “I joined because I wanted a voice.
Joe Wedge is a fourth-generation lobsterman from Great Cranberry Island although he fishes his 38’ South Shore out of Southwest Harbor. Like so many lobstermen, he had been meaning to join the MLA for years but “I’m not a meeting person,” His grandfather Karl, a longtime member of the MLA, was the man who gave Wedge his introduction to lobstering. Still, despite his grandfather’s example, Wedge never joined. “When I was younger, I wasn’t paying attention and I didn’t have time,” he explained. Now, as his teenage sons are getting into fishing, Wedge’s perspective has changed. “I want to be part of the solution,” he said, referencing MLA’s hard work on representing lobstermen on the right whale rule discussions. His sons, Austin, 16, and Joshua, 14, now are also members. “Being members keeps us connected to the process,” he says. “I’m happy to be a part of an organization that works for everyone.”
Michael Hunt of Corea is also the father of two young sons who fish. Gavin, 12, and Dawson, 10, fish during the summer months when they are out of school. “They learn stuff at school [about right whales], but we have to give them a different perspective when they get home,” Hunt said. He bought memberships for himself and his boys because he felt it was important for the entire family to be part of the MLA. Hunt serves on the Zone A Lobster Council when not fishing offshore in his 46’ Wesmac. When asked why he decided to join this year his response was simple: “Seems like the MLA is the biggest voice fighting for us right now.”Category: Community Voices, People