Appreciating Maine Lobstermen on Labor Day

Appreciating Maine Lobstermen on Labor Day

Katrina Crowell

Labor Day is coming right up....

The air is getting cooler, the sun is setting sooner, and parents and kids are preparing for back-to-school season within our “new normal.” With all the hustle and bustle of this transitional period, it can be easy to forget that Labor Day is more than just a long-weekend (although, we do love the extra day to kick back 😎). Officially recognized as a national holiday in 1894, Labor Day is about celebrating the achievements and contributions of American workers. Now more than ever, it’s clear that workers across all industries are what keeps the USA running smoothly. 

As we approach Labor Day 2020, we can’t help but feel a strong sense of respect and appreciation for our favorite group of hard working citizens: Maine lobstermen and women. Here are just a few reasons we’re celebrating our lobstermen this Labor Day weekend. 

Heritage, hard work and expertise

The Maine lobster fishery dates back to the 1600s, making it one of the oldest lobster fisheries in the USA. Just like the generations before them, today’s Maine lobstermen hand-catch their lobster from their small day-boats around the Gulf of Maine. Most start their day well before sunrise, so they can be out to sea by daybreak. Since so much of their day depends on sea and climate conditions, Maine lobstermen have to become experts on the weather, oceanography, and the impacts of natural elements (such as moon phases) as they relate to the tide.

Lobstermen and women aren’t only experts on lobster, coastal weather and the sea, they also have to expertly operate and maintain their boats, traps and buoys. Salty, choppy and often frigid conditions make coastal Maine waters quite unforgiving - especially when it comes to safety and keeping one’s boat in tip-top shape. The life of a lobsterman isn’t easy! But Maine lobstermen wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Sustainability at sea

Harvesting sustainably and protecting the lobster population has been important to Maine lobstermen for over 100 years. In fact, sustainable practices such as releasing egg-bearing females and implementing size restrictions on lobsters caught have been in place since the 1800s.

Responsible sourcing isn’t new to Maine lobstermen - it’s been a way of life for generations. Today, Maine fishermen have formalized and expanded their sustainability practices for the lobster industry. Sustainability practices include using biodegradable vents on lobster traps, so lobsters can get through in the event a trap gets lost; measuring each catch to make sure any lobsters that are brought to market measure within strict limits set to avoid harvesting juveniles or female breeding lobsters; and marking/”notching” the tails of egg-bearing female lobsters before putting them back into the sea to alert other fishermen to the female’s fertile status.

These rigorous standards help keep Maine’s lobster population healthy, so our area doesn’t become overfished, and future generations can work the same fishery. 

Showing some love on Labor Day

The work is tough and the days are long, but the rewards are well worth reaping. We’re proud of our hardworking lobstermen and women - an important part of our economy and way of life in Coastal Maine.