ROCKLAND, MAINE – People love lobster. For some, it’s nostalgic, eliciting memories of bygone days and summers in Maine. For others, it’s a celebratory meal reserved for special occasions. From whole lobster or tail to a lobster roll or bisque—from Panera, McDonald’s, and Red Lobster to the finest white-tablecloth restaurant, lobster is an iconic American food. And waitstaff and apps tell diners that Maine lobster is thriving—it’s a sustainable fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council—so they can feel good about what’s on their plates.
The bait used to catch lobster, however, is less on people’s minds. But it’s unavoidable when talking to Maine’s lobstermen these days.
Genevieve McDonald fishes out of Maine’s largest lobster port aboard the F/V Hello Darlings II. Last November, she became Maine’s first female commercial fisherman (“fisherman” and “lobsterman” are the strongly preferred terms for both women and men in the industry, she says) elected to the Maine House of Representatives, representing a district that includes Maine’s two biggest lobster ports. Not surprisingly, McDonald ran on a platform many in the fishing industry support. But above all else, one issue stood out.
“Our biggest issue is the bait crisis,” she said in November, regarding a newly imposed 70 percent catch limit cut for herring, the most popular lobster bait. “I can’t get the herring quota back,” she said, “but I want to try to see about other… [CONTINUE READING]