Maine Commercial Landings Top 600 Million Dollars for Only the Third Time
Augusta - The value of Maine's 2018 Commercially harvested marine resources increased by more than $60 million over 2017, and for only the third time in history exceeded $600 million. At $637,174,944, the overall value represents the second highest on record, according to preliminary data from the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
"The best seafood in the world comes from Maine," said Maine Governor Janet T. Mills. "This industry is the cornerstone of Maine's coastal economy, and the value of this year's catch reflects the dedication and sacrifices of the men and women who work on the water and those who make sure this quality product gets to market."
Maine's lobster harvesters saw another strong year in 2018, landing 119,640,379 pounds, which was an increase of nearly 8 million pounds over 2017. 2018 was only the seventh time in history that more than 110 million pounds of Maine lobster were landed.
At $484,543,633, the value of Maine's lobster fishery climbed by more than $46 million over 2017 on the strength of a boat price that increased from $3.92 per-pound in 2017 to $4.05 in 2018.
According to data published by NOAA, American lobster was the most valuable single species harvested in the U.S. in 2015, 2016, and 2017, with Maine landings accounting for approximately 80 percent of that value each year.
Despite a season shortened because of illegal sales which put the state in jeopardy of exceeding its allotted quota, elver harvesters pocketed $21,747,190 in 2018. The total was an increase of $9.5 million, or 78 percent, over 2017 and ranked the fishery as Maine's second most valuable.
A record per-pound price for Maine elvers of $2,366 resulted in an overall value that makes 2018 the third most lucrative in the fishery's history, behind only 2012 and 2013 - years in which there was no quota for elvers.
The value of Atlantic Herring placed it third overall at $16,565,907, notwithstanding harvest levels that were 3.6 million pounds lower than 2017.
Softshell clam harvesters earned an additional $514,768 over 2017 due to an increase over 2017 of 258,642 pounds harvested. At $12,854,545, the fishery was Maine's fourth most valuable in 2018.
Sea urchins and scallops ranked fifth and sixth, respectively in value of harvested resources. Harvesters landed 2,041,633 pounds of urchins valued at $6,201,621. Maine scallop harvesters landed 239,428 pounds less in 2018 than in 2017 which, combined with a decrease of $1.20 per pound, resulted in a decline in value from 2017 of $3,488,936 for a total of $5,935,639.
Underscoring the importance of commercial fishing to Maine is the most recent data from the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program which reveals that Maine commercial harvesters took more than twice the number of commercial fishing trips than any other state on the east coast. In 2017, Maine harvesters reported 447,523 trips while harvesters from Virginia, the next highest state, reported just 217,940.
"Maine's commercial fishing industries remain a critically important driver for our state's economy and identity," said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher. "However, there are challenges we must tackle to sustain our marine resources and the communities they support.
"We must continue to look at adapting to a changing Gulf of Maine while facing related challenges that include a pending bait shortage and whale rules. Working directly with these industries to find creative solutions that maintain their economic viability remains the focus of the Mills Administration."