Maine's 2019 Commercial Landings Were the Second Most Valuable of All Time
Augusta - At $673,910,558, the value of Maine's commercially harvested marine resources in 2019 was the second highest of all time, and an increase of more than $26 million over 2018. "Maine continues to produce the highest quality seafood in the world," said Maine Governor Janet T. Mills. The exceptional value of our marine resources is the result of a steadfast commitment to responsible, sustainable harvesting, innovative cultivation practices, and delivery of the highest quality product.
Maines lobster harvesters landed 100,725,013 pounds, marking the ninth year in a row, and only the ninth ever, of landings that topped 100 million pounds. Despite a 17 percent decline in pounds landed from 2018, the value topped $485 million, ranking 2019 as the fourth most lucrative for the iconic fishery on the strength of a 20 percent increase in per-pound value.
Even with a slow start last year, Maines lobster industry ended the year strong, with landings picking up significantly in the last few months, said Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. There are many factors in the marine environment that impact landings. Last year the cold spring caused a delay in the molt which is when lobsters shed their shells and the bulk of the harvest occurs. Fishermen held off until the shed happened, so fishing was slow early but picked up later in the year, said Commissioner Keliher.
According to data published by NOAA, American lobster was the most valuable single species harvested in the U.S. in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, with Maine landings accounting for approximately 80 percent of that value each year. Our lobster industry continues to be one of the most important economic engines in Maine and its reputation is worldwide, said Governor Mills.
Elvers again topped $2,000 per pound which resulted in an overall value of $20,119,194, ranking it as the second most valuable species harvested in Maine in 2019 and once again by far the most valuable on a per pound basis.
Softshell clammers raked in an additional 623,000 pounds compared to 2018, which generated more than $18 million for harvesters and made softshell clams Maines third most valuable species. The uptick in value was due to the additional landings plus a 30 percent increase in value, which jumped from $1.80 per pound in 2018 to $2.34 per pound in 2019.
3.2 million pounds of oysters were harvested in 2019, an increase of 460,911 pounds over 2018, resulting in a jump in value of $336,334, for a total value of $7,622,441, making oysters the fourth most valuable species.
The fifth and sixth most valuable fisheries in Maine were blood worms, used as bait for species including striped bass, valued at $6,283,315, and urchins, worth $5,835,917.
Maines fishing and aquaculture industries have again shown what hard work, and a commitment to sustainable, responsible harvesting and cultivation practices can accomplish, said Commissioner Keliher. But Maine continues to face challenges associated with climate change, federal whale regulations, and working waterfront access. These are challenges that the Mills Administration will continue to work on to make sure Maines marine economy remains strong for future generations.