In response to the Press Herald’s Feb. 2 editorial, “Time for Maine to look past lobster boom years: A study predicting a long-term decline in lobster landings is a prod to consider what’s next”:

As someone who has not only fished for lobster for the last 35 years but also has been involved in regional ocean planning, I can tell you there is a long list of industries and groups impatiently waiting in the wings for lobstering’s demise.

The news of late tells us that the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is seeking to open the Gulf of Maine to oil and gas exploration, and with that, they would follow with sand, gravel and minerals mining. We’ve seen the push for offshore wind turbines along with tidal energy projects.

Added to this mix of new offshore infrastructure would be aquaculture, in the form of fish pens and mussel strings. At the same time, the environmental front seeks to establish marine protected areas and sanctuaries, as well as to severely limit lobstermen’s interactions with endangered species.

The fishing industry has relied on its long-established history and heritage on the water to stake its place, and the lobster boom itself has helped serve to give a validity to that claim with its high ranking in the state’s economy. Combining that with the fact that fishing has had a long and successful marriage with the tourism and recreation sectors, which are even larger players in the Atlantic coastal economic picture, helps solidify that position.

Those who would seek to diminish the importance of the lobster fishery in the gulf and expect to use this study as a scientifically verified eulogy for fishing must realize that was not its intent. The intention was not to decide what’s next, but to sustain the qualities we have.

Richard Nelson


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