AUGUSTA — As part of Maine’s efforts to expand markets for lobster, Gov. Paul LePage on Monday sent a box of Maine lobster products to each of the 49 other governors across the country.
“What better time than summer to share the iconic Maine lobster?” LePage said.
Boxes full of items such as prepared lobster meat, frozen tails, bisques and spreads from Maine processors and dealers were shipped overnight. The governor announced plans to send the promotional boxes earlier this month. The packages did not include live lobsters, given the logistical challenges of sending live shellfish across the country, a spokesman said.
The $5,000 promotion, which covered the cost of the lobster products and shipping, was funded by the governor’s contingency fund, according to Jeff Nichols, spokesman for the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
The state invited all Maine lobster processors to participate and some items were donated. The shipment coincided with August being Maine Lobster Month.
“The lobster industry is vital to Maine’s economy and its identity,” LePage said.
The lobster industry, Maine’s largest fishery, has been suffering from record catches and weak prices. Last year, Maine lobstermen hauled a record 123 million pounds of lobster, up 18 percent from 2012. The total value of the catch, however, dropped 1.1 percent, to $331 million.
To combat weak prices, the state has planned a $2 million marketing effort, led by the new Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, to promote Maine lobster around the country and internationally. Maine also has been trying to expand its lobster-processing capacity so that more can be processed in-state rather than in Canada, which now handles most of the industry’s processing.
“This fishery is as healthy as it is due in large part to the sustainable harvesting practices pioneered by Maine lobstermen,” LePage said. “These longstanding practices are why the Maine lobster fishery earned the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainability certification.”
Sustainable seafood certification, which recognizes ecologically sound practices from harvest to consumer, will boost the marketing of Maine lobster, the Department of Marine Resources has previously said.
Maine is the largest supplier of lobster in the country.
“Maine lobster is not just a Maine product, it’s a U.S. product,” LePage said. “Eighty-five percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, so I also see this as an opportunity to encourage my colleagues to support a strong U.S. economy.”
In addition to the lobster products, the packages from LePage included recipes and information from the Maine Lobster Promotion Council.
Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at firstname.lastname@example.org