The Family that Lobsters Together . . .

The Press Herald has published an interview with Allison Romeo for today’s ShopTalk column. Romeo works with her father, Richard Merrill, to run The Lobsterman’s Catch on Widgery Wharf which is owned by her grandfather, Leland Merrill.

Q: How old are your dad and grandfather?

A: My dad is 54. My grandfather is 85. He finally stopped lobstering, which he’d been doing since he was a child, three years ago. My dad has owned his own traps since he was 13. His grandfather, Stanley Cushing, was a lobsterman as well, from Cliff Island.

Smoked Lobster, Lobster Wine, etc

The feature article in today’s Food & Dining section takes a look at several initiatives ranging from lobster barbecue to lobster wine, to help out the Maine industry.

“We smoke our lobsters here, and they are really a great vessel for just about any kind of sauce, and we’re trying to bring some attention to that,” [chef/owner of Buck’s Naked BBQ] Caisse said. “We’ve got a lot of local lobster guys who come in here to eat, and we hear stuff, we know how hard they’re trying to sustain their living. So we want to help them by telling people that lobsters are for more than just a special occasion.”

Clam Flats Reopening

According to an article in today’s Press Herald, clam flats in Maine are reopening as the red tide dissipates.

Though there are still areas that are off-limits to digging, enough flats reopened Friday to put hundreds of diggers back to work and ensure a healthy supply of locally harvested steamers and fried clams for the first time all summer, dealers said.

“We’re very excited,” said Dave Wilcox, owner of Ken’s Place in Scarborough, a busy destination for fried clams and steamers. “People have been calling and asking, ‘Are the flats open yet?'”

Lobstermen May Organize a Tie-Up

According to an article in today’s Press Herald Maine lobstermen are “talking about a possible work stoppage to start as soon as next week.”

Frustrated with prices that continue to sink because of weak demand, lobstermen said they might stay on shore temporarily in an effort to reduce supplies and make their catches more valuable.

Lobstermen have threatened such shutdowns, known as tie-ups, in the past, and some have organized small-scale tie-ups in recent years to protest low prices or reduce excess supplies. But the fishermen also are notoriously independent, and there has not been a large-scale tie-up in decades.

Red Tide at Record Levels

Red tide blooms in Maine are at record high levels. They are at 50-60 times the limit at which the state closes clam flats, according to an article in today’s Press Herald.

“With this (red tide), even a small number of clams would get people very sick and might actually be fatal if harvested from certain locations,” Anderson [a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts] said.

Tomalley, the green substance in lobsters, also is considered unsafe to eat because of red tide. Lobster meat and meat from scallops and from fish are not affected by the toxin.

CSAs on an Upswing

There’s a front page story in today’s Press Herald on the increasing popularity of CSAs in Maine.

The number of CSAs in Maine has roughly doubled to 140 in the past three years, said Melissa White Pillsbury, organic marketing coordinator for the Maine Organic Gardeners and Farmers Association. The public’s increased familiarity with CSAs and the growing number of farms in Maine are some of the reasons cited for the trend.

The CSA approach is also being applied to business beyond the farm.

Others involved in food production are also adopting the concept and tailoring it to meet their needs. In Maine, apple orchards, sheep farms, fishermen and bakeries are among those using the CSA model.