August 9, 2012

Maine plant can handle more lobster, needs place to sell it

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

With Canadian processors shut down because of protests by lobstermen, some plants in Maine are getting more calls from customers who need a place to process lobster meat.

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Fisherman Maurice Martin, right, speaks with media after he and four other fishermen met with staff in the office of Federal fisheries minister Keith Ashfield on Wednesday.

Photos by Stephen MacGillivray/The Daily Gleaner

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Protesters put signs up around the entrance to Ashfield's office. One says, "Under $4.00 – We Want Help."

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"Absolutely, we're getting more calls" said John Hathaway, president and CEO of Shucks Maine Lobster in Richmond. "This situation (in Canada) has put some wharfs and dealers in a bind. We're getting a lot of calls from people to take their processor-grade lobster."

Hathaway said, "The dealers have to move all their supply so they can buy again the next day. They can't have a backlog."

Shucks is one of three large processing plants in Maine, handling about 3 million to 4 million pounds a year.

Shucks, which has about 70 to 80 workers, can handle more lobster and could double capacity if needed, but it needs a place to sell the processed meat.

"It's hard for us to buy everyone's product. We can't just produce and hold. We need to have a place to sell it," Hathaway said. "You can't trade one problem for another."

Sara Griffin of Quoddy Bay Lobster in Eastport said the fishermen she has heard from this week are frustrated.

"I think they would like to see more processing done here in Maine, but that hasn't happened," she said from her business, a combination retail shop/wholesale distributor in easternmost Maine.

 

Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this report.

 

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

emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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