I have received many emails and texts about the recent articles concerning the Maine Lobster industry being “imperiled” because of a shortage of bait.
The Main(e) Issue: federal regulators have cut the amount of herring we can fish this year. Herring is a major source of bait for the Maine lobster industry. However, herring is not the only fish we use for bait here in Maine. We have options.
What’s important to understand: we have had bait issues before. This is not new to the industry. Accordingly, our neighbors to the North have plenty of bait for us to purchase. This year is a little different than the past, however, I believe the media is casting out a little more spectacle and less reality. We’re Mainer’s. We figure these things out.
Know that Get Maine Lobster will have plenty of bait and lobster this summer and beyond.
Let’s move into the future: I do believe it is time to start getting more innovative. Technology enables us to work outside of the box. For example, in 2005, Stuart Littlefield (who I call the Mad Scientist) invented the “Lobster Pot Brownie,” a shelf-stable, dehydrated one-pound block lobster bait which is made from herring, pogies, mackerel and his extracts for added flavor. No artificial ingredients and nothing that isn’t naturally in the ocean.
Let’s bring the “Brownie” back!
In the fishing industry, we have a lot of byproduct that can be converted into other products that serve other industries. Every day, skins, bones, and guts get left behind when they are primed for becoming something useful...LIKE; nutrients for soil, additives for pet food, or even bait for lobsters.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditions of the Maine Lobster industry, but it is time to start being more innovative. Who knows, we might become a completely self-sustaining industry that is nourishing our North Atlantic ecosystem instead of depleting it.
Just my two cents.