Posted by LobsterMan on 06/4/08 in Lobster History
Falling prey to its natural predators, to its common lobster-kind and to men all over the world, Maine Lobsters need a lot of protecting if their existence is to last for the next generations to come.
The State of Maine, University of Maine, Maine residents and Maine Lobstermen down to Maine Lobster markets/restaurants to other Maine Lobster associations have all long ago forged a relationship to protect Maine Lobsters. To them, protecting Maine Lobsters is protecting the economy and ecosystem.
For its part, the State of Maine has created laws and agencies to ensure the protection and promotion of Maine Lobsters worldwide. Currently, it is seeking to a London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue “eco-label” seal for Maine Lobsters to assure consumers that what they are enjoying were not overfished or harvested in a way that harms the oceans.
With this “eco-label” certification, the industry can promote its harvest practices as wholesalers and retailers down to restaurant chefs are now encouraged buy only Marine Lobsters with MSC seal.
And as early as 1987, the University of Maine with Maine Lobster Industry associations founded the Lobster Institute with the mission to sustain both the lobster resource and a viable lobster fishery through conservation, outreach, research and education.
A special bond as well as unspoken agreements on adhering to “eco-friendly” practices and on territories where to set-up traps long exist among Maine Lobster harvesters – some local residents and licensed lobstermen.
Some of the proper regulated and sustainable practices are: Tail Notching which ensures that female lobsters with visible eggs cannot be harvested by notching her tail before releasing her; setting the Minimum Size Limit of 3 ¼ inches carapace measurements to allow adolescent Maine Lobsters the chance to mature and reproduce; setting the Maximum Size Limit of 5 inches carapace measurements to protect the large, healthy breeding stock.
Harvesting Methods mandates that harvesting in Maine is by trap only – no dragging of nets or diving allowed. But these traps must have escape vents for undersize lobsters as well as biodegradable escape hatches to free lobsters in lost traps. A Trap Limit is also agreed whereby the total number of traps per harvester is limited by both the State and the individual “lobster zones.”
Maine Lobstermen also make sure that newbie lobstermen are properly taught the ropes by working as an apprentice with a veteran lobsterman before they are given their “territories.” Also, outsiders who attempt to lobster in Maine as they may just find their gear moved, knots tied in buoy lines or their trap lines cut.
Moreover, a “Lobster Seed Fund” has also been set-up supported by license fees and used to purchase females that extrude their eggs after being harvested and ensure that the good breeding stock is returned to the ocean to reproduce.
All in all, any person who enjoys a Maine Lobster will now derive a certain satisfaction that it is of top-notch quality seafood from a well-managed, sustainable and unpolluted marine environment backed by powerhouse protectors.