Maine fishers brought in USD 611 million in 2023

A Maine fisher holds two lobsters
A Maine fisher holds two lobsters | Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/spwidoff
4 Min

Commercial fishers in the U.S. state of Maine earned USD 611 million (EUR 564 million) at the dock in 2023, a 4 percent year-over-year increase, according to preliminary data from the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR).

“The Maine seafood industry continues to be a powerful economic engine for our state,” Maine Governor Janet Mills said in a statement. “The dedication to sustainability and premium quality by our fishermen, aquaculturists, and dealers is a source of tremendous pride for everyone who calls Maine home.”

State officials attributed the “strong year” for Maine’s commercial fishing industry to the boat prices for lobster, which jumped from USD 3.97 (EUR 3.66) per pound in 2022 to USD 4.95 (EUR 4.57) per pound in 2023. The overall value of the lobster fishery rose USD 72 million (EUR 66 million), or 18 percent, over the prior year to USD 464 million (EUR 428 million) in 2023.

“The price Maine lobstermen received last year is a reflection of the continued strong demand for this iconic seafood,” DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher noted. “Consumers and buyers recognize the Maine lobster industry’s longstanding commitment to sustainable, responsible harvesting practices and how it provides a unique, premium culinary experience.”

The state’s second-most valuable fishery in 2023 was its elver fishery, which brought in USD 19.5 million (EUR 18 million), with a price of USD 2,009 (EUR 1,854) per pound. While Maine’s elver quota is set to expire after this year, regulators have determined to continue with the current quota.

“Fortunately, because of the strong management measures we’ve instituted here in Maine, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission American Eel Board has decided that the existing quota will remain in place, preventing what could have been a loss of millions of dollars in income for Maine’s elver industry,” Keliher said.

Maine’s next most valuable fisheries were softshell clams at USD 13.9 million (EUR 12.8), oysters at USD 11 million (EUR 10 million), and menhaden at USD 10 million (EUR 9 million).

State officials said Covid-relief funds from NOAA helped Maine improve its groundfish industry, with investments made in the Portland Fish Exchange, Vessel Services, and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA).

“DMR is proud to have supported fuel, ice, and landing fee rebate programs at the Portland Fish Exchange and Vessel Services,” Keliher said. “These programs, which helped to reduce costs, along with market stability enabled by MCFA’s Fishermen Feeding Mainers program, were critical to maintaining and increasing landings of groundfish in Maine. It’s important work and a positive story; fishermen were able to keep working, critical infrastructure has been maintained, and fresh, healthy Maine seafood went to schools and families in need.”

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