PORTLAND — Passengers aboard the Norwegian Dawn soon will be eating fresh Maine lobsters.

Norwegian Cruise Lines has agreed to buy 5,000 pounds of lobsters here, split among the ship’s four stops in Portland later this month and in October.

Norwegian will join Celebrity Cruises in buying fresh local lobster. The deals were brokered by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, who said she is trying to help the state’s lobster industry, which is dealing with low prices caused by a glut of lobsters.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of The Portland Press Herald.

Celebrity Cruises agreed last month to buy 3,800 pounds of lobster when its Celebrity Summit stops in Portland three times this fall.

The cruise line indicated at the time that it might buy lobster from a dealer in Boston, but on Wednesday it said it would buy from Ready Seafood on the Portland waterfront.

A Norwegian Cruise Lines spokeswoman said that company also will buy from Ready Seafood.

The purchase of 8,800 pounds of lobster won’t solve the industry’s problems, but it’s a step in the right direction, said a member of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s board.

“It will all help, every little bit helps,” said Brian McLain. “But we probably need 10,000 like that.”

McLain said prices for live lobster, which were near record lows earlier this summer, have rebounded slightly but are still well below what lobstermen need.

John Ready, one of the two brothers who own the seafood company, said the purchases could pay off long term.

This year’s buy “obviously helps,” he said, but “it’s a symbol more than anything.”

He said the cruise ship industry buys a lot of frozen lobster. If passengers like the fresh lobster, he said, it could lead other lines to pick up local seafood when they stop in Maine, and that could provide a more meaningful boost to the lobster industry.

This year’s purchases would lay the groundwork, he said. “That’s a relationship that you start.”

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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