The Maine Lobstermen Leadership Institute (MLLI) fosters new civic leaders to preserve the economic viability of historic coastal communities and promote stewardship of the resource.
“We take them off their boats and out of their harbors and bring them together for an opportunity to see the whole of Maine’s lobster fishery and how it fits in nationally and internationally” says Andi Pelletier, from the MLCA Office of Programs & Development. The curriculum includes lobster fishery management, lobster fishery science and the marine ecosystem, a detailed assessment of lobster markets, experiential learning opportunities and cultural exchange with other fishing communities. The program focuses primarily on developing leadership amongst younger lobstermen, which includes learning from more experienced civic leaders in Maine. Current industry leaders participate in the program to foster peer-to-peer exchange and to mentor developing leaders. The MLCA was awarded funding to continue the MLLI through the Research, Education, and Development (RED) Board in May 2016.
Other activities were experiential and include attendance at the Fishermen’s Forum, Seafood Expo North America, and the International Lobster Symposium, testifying at the Legislature and Zone Council meetings, and a trip to PEI to fish with lobstermen across the border.
Those who complete the program can and do take a broader interest in their fishery. Whether attending local Zone Council meetings, regional meetings on whales or speaking at the legislature, participants share their passion and new-found knowledge. Many of the 2017 participants became advocates for the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative traveling across the US to speak at special events geared towards chefs and the food industry. “Maine After Midnight” was a whirlwind tour for these lobstermen as they spoke on television, radio and to celebrity chefs about the virtues and great flavor of new shell lobster.