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Vinalhaven is second largest seafood port in Maine

Knox County lobstermen earned $139 million in 2019

By Stephen Betts | Mar 06, 2020

The value of Maine’s commercially harvested seafood in 2019 was the second highest of all time at nearly $674 million, and an increase of more than $26 million from 2018.

Knox County continued to be near the top in the state for lobster landings

“Maine continues to produce the highest quality seafood in the world,” said Gov. Janet Mills in a news release from the Maine Department of Marine Resources. “The exceptional value of our marine resources is the result of a steadfast commitment to responsible, sustainable harvesting, innovative cultivation practices, and delivery of the highest quality product.”

Maine’s lobster harvesters landed 100,725,013 pounds, marking the ninth year in a row, and only the ninth ever, of landings that topped 100 million pounds. Despite a 17 percent decline in pounds landed from 2018, the value topped $485 million, ranking 2019 as the fourth most lucrative for the iconic fishery on the strength of a 20 percent increase in per-pound value, according to DMR.

“Even with a slow start last year, Maine’s lobster industry ended the year strong, with landings picking up significantly in the last few months,” said Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher.

“There are many factors in the marine environment that impact landings. Last year the cold spring caused a delay in the molt which is when lobsters shed their shells and the bulk of the harvest occurs. Fishermen held off until the shed happened, so fishing was slow early but picked up later in the year,” said Keliher.

According to data published by NOAA, American lobster was the most valuable single species harvested in the U.S. in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, with Maine landings accounting for approximately 80 percent of that value each year. “Our lobster industry continues to be one of the most important economic engines in Maine and its reputation is worldwide,” said Governor Mills.

The preliminary Knox County landings totaled 27.1 million pounds, earning harvesters $139.3 million. The landings are down from 2018's catch of 31 million pounds but the value was up from the $135.6 million in 2018 for Knox lobstermen. The record value for Knox County came in 2016 at $148 million.

Knox County was second only to Hancock County where lobstermen hauled in $31.6 million pounds worth $152.3 million. Lincoln County's haul was 5.2 million pounds valued at $26.3 million.

The Hancock County town of Stonington was the top port for at least the fifth consecutive year in terms of value of seafood landed on their docks. The Stonington havest in 2019 was valued at nearly $51 million.

Vinalhaven came in second for at least the fifth consecutive year with a value of nearly $40 million. Friendship was fourth for the second straight year at more than $24 million. Spruce Head was sixth at $18.6 million. And Owls Head was the 10th highest port with its catch valued at $13 million.

Rockland dropped out of the top 10 ports in 2019. In 2018, Rockland was eighth at $13 million. And in each of the three previous years, Rockland had been fifth in Maine ports for value of seafood landed.

Elvers again topped $2,000 per pound which resulted in an overall value of $20,119,194, ranking it as the second most valuable species harvested in Maine in 2019 and once again by far the most valuable on a per pound basis.

Soft shell clams were raked in an additional 623,000 pounds compared to 2018, which generated more than $18 million for harvesters and made soft shell clams Maine’s third most valuable species. The uptick in value was due to the additional landings plus a 30 percent increase in value, which jumped from $1.80 per pound in 2018 to $2.34 per pound in 2019.

There were 3.2 million pounds of oysters harvested in 2019, an increase of 460,911 pounds over 2018, resulting in a jump in value of $336,334, for a total value of $7,622,441, making oysters the fourth most valuable species.

The fifth and sixth most valuable fisheries in Maine were blood worms, used as bait for species including striped bass, valued at $6,283,315, and urchins, worth $5,835,917.

“Maine’s fishing and aquaculture industries have again shown what hard work, and a commitment to sustainable, responsible harvesting and cultivation practices can accomplish,” said Keliher. “But Maine continues to face challenges associated with climate change, federal whale regulations, and working waterfront access. These are challenges that the Mills Administration will continue to work on to make sure Maine’s marine economy remains strong for future generations.”

More landings data can be found at

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 06, 2020 13:25

The Maine Fishermen should get  medals for putting Maine on the map with their hard work.

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