The Forecaster has a report on the LobsterBIZ program that occurred Monday at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. LobsterBIZ is a day long seminar being held in Portland, Rockland and Ellsworth to provide lobstermen with the business knowledge they need to succeed in the current market.

LobsterBIZ coordinator Meredith Mandelson, GMRI’s community project manager, said the seminars are being funded through a $50,000 grant from the Lobster Research, Education and Development Board, which oversees the revenue generated from lobster license plate sales. Now that the ground work has been laid, Mandelson said she hopes the seminars will become an annual event.

Lobster 2009

After a very rough year in 2008, lobstermen are hoping for a better market price this year. According to a front page story in today’s Press Herald,

The price paid to lobstermen last week ranged from $4 per pound in Portland to $3.25 per pound Down East. Retail prices started at about $5.50 per pound for the smallest lobsters.

The lobsters on the market now are usually the most valuable of the season, both because they are in tight supply and because their hard shells mean they can be shipped live around the world as well as sold locally. When the peak summer season starts around July 4, the market is typically flooded with soft-shell lobsters that can only be sold locally, bringing the price down by as much as $2 a pound.

Pandalus borealis

An article in today’s Press Herald explains the reproductive cycle of Maine shrimp (Pandalus borealis) and how the temperature sensitive process might be impacted by global warming.

Shrimp spend their brief adult lives on the dark ocean bottom and never come near blooming plankton. So, to synchronize the egg hatching and plankton blooming, it seems, the shrimp key in to the temperature at the ocean bottom.

Price Fixing?

An article in the latest issue of Working Waterfront reports on the belief by some that the recent fluctuations in lobster price are the result of price fixing.

Some fishermen think dealers and poundkeepers cheat them and have “since time immemorial,” to quote one, as a matter of course, and nothing will disabuse them of this notion. But fishermen and dealers from both sides of the border, this time, were sure someone-and by that they meant one of the big dealers or perhaps one of the big Canadian processors-must have been manipulating the price. There could be no other reason for the price to jump so high so fast.

Maine Street Marketplace

There’s an article in today’s Press Herald about the goals of Maine Street Marketplace initiative that’s meeting this week at USM.

Maine farmers, fishermen and others are working to create a new delivery system to connect customers with locally produced food and agricultural products.

The idea is to set up an online grocery store that would take customer orders for the wide range of produce, fish, meat, poultry, dairy and other agricultural products produced around the state. A warehousing and distribution system would be part of the venture, which may also include a retail store and commercial kitchen for food processing.

Fisherman Trades in Boat for Business Degree

There’s an article in today’s paper about a fisherman, Craig Pendleton a 3rd generation fisherman, and his decision to get out of fishing entirely.

Pendleton, 48, is trying to sell his boat, and last month started taking classes toward a business degree at Husson University in South Portland. For the third-generation fisherman, it is more than a career change. It’s the end of a way of life and a family heritage.

“I’m the last Pendleton to fish out of Camp Ellis,” he said. “I held out for as long as I could.”

Community Supported Fisheries

CSFs are front and center in this article in the Food & Health section of today’s Press Herald. According to the article, a number of community supported fisheries will be on hand at the CSA Fairs taking place across the state on February 8.

As of last week, organizers were expecting lobster and mussel shares to be offered in Portland, lobster and shrimp in Brunswick, and mussels in Newcastle. Seafood shares were also expected to be available in Belfast, Orono and maybe Saco and Ellsworth.

Fishing Industry

Glen Libby, chairman of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association, authored a Maine Voices article for today’s Press Herald about fisheries management. He call the current days at sea approach a “dismal failure” but expresses hope in a new sector based management and other ideas like CSFs.

“In addition to forming a sector, our fishermen have created Community Supported Fisheries based on the successful agriculture model, Community Supported Agriculture.

In partnership with the Island Institute, this has allowed us to change the current marketing structure from catching high volumes of lower-quality fish that sell for a low price to catching low volumes of higher-quality fish that sell for a premium price.

By selling directly to the people of Maine, we have established a way to keep Maine’s fishermen fishing, and our customers now feel a strong sense of ownership for the fishery and the fishermen in the Gulf of Maine.”