About Lobstermen & Their Business

The lobstering industry is unique from other fisheries such as herring or cod. A lobsterman is a sole proprietor. State law prevents large companies overseeing a fleet of lobstering boats, so lobstermen really do everything from bookkeeping, purchasing and fishing! Since 1850, when catching lobsters with traps began in Maine, the fishery has grown into the largest one in Maine. In order to be a successful lobsterman, they need a boat, bait, ropes, traps, insurance, storage, skills as well as fishing knowledge. Lobstermen, in Maine, are licensed by the state. This license must be renewed every year, and if they choose not to renew, they need to start the application process all over again. Lobstermen usually live in coastal areas, and their fishing boundaries tend to be located offshore from where they live.

  • What time/seasons do they fish?
    • In Maine lobstermen fish year-round but the most productive time is between late June and late December, when the lobsters are moving. Regardless of the season, lobster fishing is easily the most active throughout New England in the Gulf of Maine.
  • What kind of weather do they need for fishing?
    • Heavy winds and strong water currents not only make catching a lobster more difficult, they are also dangerous for a lobsterman and his/her crew. Flat, calm water conditions are optimal for lobster fishing.
  • Do lobstermen fish alone?
    • Depending on their license type, lobstermen can fish alone or with a crew of up to three people. Their crew are referred to as “sternmen”.
  • How old are lobstermen?
    • In 2015, average age of Maine lobstermen was 50 years old.
    • One can apply for a student license at age 8. To obtain a commercial license, one must complete all the requirements by age 23 if still going to school part-time. Otherwise the deadline is one’s 18th birthday.
    • Lobstermen fish into their 70’s and 80’s. There are even some 90 year-old lobstermen! Age 40 is considered young.
Most lobstermen work with at least one crew member. MLA photo