Lobstering Then and Now

by Sandra Dinsmore

Hauling off Machais, 2010. Showing some roots to earlier days, the glassed-over wood hull, waterline length, basic wheelhouse and the stern dog are still doing the job. Older fishermen remember a lobster fishery that was very different not so long ago. A few remember back to a fishery that would not come close to supporting the big boats, fuel and equipment costs of the contemporary Maine lobster industry. That it will keep changing is certain, just how it will change is not. © Photo by Sam Murfitt.

The differences in boats, equipment, catch, and price when fishermen started and now stagger the imagination. Four Deer Isle fishermen from different parts of the island, and starting at different times, tell the story.

Ed Blackmore and his year-older brother, of Stonington village, started fishing at ages eleven and twelve in 1937. They appropriated a few of their grandfather’s traps and a 12-foot rowboat with double oarlocks, so both could row. Their grandfather had left lobstering for work on a dragger because there was “no price” for the few lobsters then being caught. “It was unheard of to have an outboard motor in those days,” Blackmore recalled. “You’d have to be super rich.” The local buyer gave the boys bait. Although they didn’t catch many, Blackmore said they earned 10 cents/lb. and 2 cents/lb. more. if they had put the wooden pegs in the claws.



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