Dylan Smith moves a crate while Zack Marston looks on. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

ROCKPORT — “Go ahead, but stay out of their way,” the man running the wharf tells me, as I head down July 20 to get some photos of the lobster being unloaded from incoming boats. “They’ll knock you over!”

There is enough humor in his voice to let me know he is friendly, but I take the warning somewhat seriously just the same.

It is early afternoon, sunny, humid and hot down on the water at the Rockport waterfront. Two big box trucks marked “Mainely Lobster & Seafood” are parked next to the little building where I received my go-ahead.

Mainely Lobster operates as a wholesaler, shipping lobster out of the area to Boston and from the airport there to California (see related story).

Live, fresh Maine lobster in Rockport. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

The wharf is not spacious for the amount of work is being done there. Lobster is being loaded from boats into crates that are lifted by a little crane to be loaded onto the trucks. While two sternmen on one boat are quickly unloading, another vessel pulls in nearby to fuel up.

Two sternmen at a time transfer the lobsters from the live tank on the boat (which is full of circulating seawater working in an open system) to the gray plastic crates. They work fast. The lobsters squirm a bit, snapping their tails and splattering the men as they do the work.

Crates can be seen floating mostly submerged off the sides of the dock. A cage full of pale crabs also occupies a spot there.

Damian Weaver of Waldoboro puts two lobsters in a crate. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

The 28-foot vessel Must Be Nice Captained by Sadie Samuels of Searsmont is one of three vessels that comes into shore in rapid succession. She notes some concerns and challenges faced by the fishery.

With the easing of pandemic restrictions, the summer has been mostly a positive for the industry. People penned up inside for more than a year have been anxious to get together with friends and loved ones to socialize, and to get out to events and restaurants to enjoy their favorite seafood. Tourists have shown up in strong numbers this season, even showing up somewhat early in June.

The potential for new strict regulations aimed at protecting right whales from being tangled in gear looms over the lobstering community, however.

Captain Sadie Samuels of Searsmont works in Rockport July 20. Her vessel is the Must Be Nice. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Samuels also expressed concern about plans for offshore wind projects. She sees them as experimental and worries about the impact running electrical cables from windmills to the shore might have on the fishery.

In addition, she raised concerns about the potential effects of vibrations from the turbines. She argues the land has already been industrialized and makes more sense as a location for wind turbines.

The fishing industry is vulnerable to numerous factors ranging from government regulations to environmental changes driven by climate change to economic factors driving up the cost of doing business.

However, so far in 2021, work continues on the water throughout the Midcoast.

Rock crabs

 

On arrival, the job is to transfer the lobsters from the live tank on the boat to the crates for transport by truck. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Zack Marston of Appleton moves some ropes on the 35-foot Mojo in Rockport. With him are Dylan Smith of Rockland and Adam Scott of Hope (right). Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Fishermen wear gloves while handling lobster. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

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