Municipal Fish Pier prepares for lobster season

By Larry Di Giovanni | Jun 17, 2014
Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni Lobster traps belonging to Pacific Trade Inc., are pictured June 12 on a newly-constructed platform at the city Municipal Fish Pier.

Rockland — The Municipal Fish Pier has three lobster buyers, one who is new to Rockland, and four lobster stations this year, said pier Director Al Gourde.

The peak of lobster season is from early July through mid-October when trucks will be lining up at the gate to haul away lobster, he said June 12. Lobster has been as high as $5 per pound over the past month, but is at $4 per pound over the past week.

The city's 2014 buyers are Fox Islands Lobster Company of Vinalhaven, owned by Frank E. Thompson; MKM Island Lobster Inc. of Matinicus, owned by Martin Molloy, which has permits for two stations; and new to Rockland, Pacific Trade Inc. of Newton, Mass., owned by Freddie Mei.

Lobster buying has not started at the city pier with the exception of MKM Island Lobster, which has been unloading lobster once or twice a week, Gourde said. The year-round company sold lobster June 11 to Linda Bean's Perfect Maine Lobster. This is MKM Island Lobster's second season on the city pier. Molloy, the nephew of former Rockland Mayor Tom Molloy, said he buys primarily in Matinicus, but said he also plans to buy local lobster.

There are a few new wrinkles to the city's lobster and bait operations this season, Gourde said. Pacific Trade owner Mei "is a first-time local lobster buyer, who plans to buy lobster on our dock. We haven't had one of those local buyers since Live Lobster Co., Inc., left [in 2012]."

In addition, Western Sea — the city pier's largest yearly docked resident, a 70-foot herring seiner — has, for the first time, set up a machine for salted herring bait, Gourde said. They have already sold some of it to MKM Island Lobster. According to acting City Manager Thomas Luttrell's June 13 weekly report, Western Sea offloaded 400,000 pounds of herring the previous week.

The large herring carrier also sells some of its catch to Double Eagle, another herring vessel docked at the pier.

During the busy season, lobster buyers work a continuous cycle of buying and selling lobster and bait, Gourde said. Working from their smack boats, the city's buyers make purchases from lobster boats operating off Vinalhaven and Matinicus, bring the lobster to the city pier to sell, load up with herring, and then take bait to the lobster boats as they prepare to buy more lobster.

The buyers pay $16,500 for their lobster station permits, and also pay for metered electricity, Gourde said. They are each allowed a 320-square-foot bait cooler. Western Sea pays $27,500 to dock with the city. Although it is a summer-to-fall lobster season, the 2014 season extends throughout the entire year.

Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 x. 117, or by email at: ldigiovanni@villagesoup.com.

Western Sea, pictured June 12, is the Municipal Fish Pier's largest herring bait supplier. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
Western Sea has added salted bait machinery to its herring operation this season. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
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Larry Di Giovanni
207 594-4401 ext. 117
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Larry Di Giovanni, a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, is returning to his daily reporting roots in order to cover the city of Rockland for The Courier-Gazette. Originally from Athens, Ohio, his family includes one son, Tony.

Di Giovanni has covered news beats ranging from the city of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., to the largest tribal government in the United States — the Navajo Nation. He has also worked as a writer in the public education and higher education fields. He's an animal enthusiast and loves dogs.

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