Overall Fisheries High
by Laurie Schreiber
The dollar amount
ranked (herring) as
Maine’s second most
According to the DMR’s March 3 press release, preliminary data show that Maine’s commercially harvested marine resources topped $700 million in overall value in 2016. The total reflects yet another all-time high and an increase of nearly $100 million in value over 2015.
At $19,019,337 Atlantic herring, the primary bait source for Maine’s lobster industry, saw an increase in value over 2015 of more than $5 million. The dollar amount ranked it as Maine’s second most valuable fishery, despite a nearly 11 percent decline in landings. “Overall herring landings declined in 2016 as a result of a lack of fish offshore, resulting in demand that far surpassed supply,” said Commissioner Pat Keliher.
Maine’s softshell clam industry dropped from second place in 2015 to third in 2016 with an overall value of $15,656,386. The decline in overall value reflected a 13.4 percent decline in per pound value as well as a 20 percent decline in pounds landed.
“One significant factor that contributed to the decline in softshell clam landings was a closure of harvest areas between the Canadian border and Mount Desert Island associated with Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning late in the season,” said Kohl Kanwit, Director of the DMR Bureau of Public Health. While the closure was minimized as much as possible through rigorous testing, many areas were closed for 2 to 4 weeks to ensure public health and safety.
Maine’s elver fishery was again by far the most lucrative of Maine’s commercial fisheries on a per pound basis at $1,430.51 a pound. Maine harvesters netted 9,400 of the 9,688 available pounds of quota for an overall value of $13,446,828, an increase of more than $2 million from the previous year. The overall value ranked the elver fishery as Maine’s fourth highest.
“While we can take this moment to celebrate the great value of Maine’s marine resources, we cannot lose site of the signs of change,” said Keliher. “The agency and the industry must work to not only safeguard our iconic lobster fishery but also to work together on solutions that ensure the health and resiliency of all Maine fisheries.”