Advocacy and Education

The Maine Lobster Fishery

Maine lobsterman Frank Gotwals Stonington MaineThe Maine lobster fishery is one of the oldest continuously operated industries in the United States. For more than 180 years, 
the tradition of lobstering has been passed down for generations and is a cornerstone of Maine’s culture, heritage, and economy.
It is renowned as one of the world’s most sustainable fisheries and consistently among the most valuable fisheries in the United States.
The Maine lobster fishery generates more than $1.5 billion annually in sales and supply chain revenue to the region’s economy.

Maine’s lobster fleet is made up of a diverse collection of small businesses supporting tens of thousands of jobs in rural communities
along the coast. The fishery directly supports more than 10,000 jobs as Captains and sternmen who work aboard the vessels to haul
in Maine’s signature catch. Maine’s wholesale lobster distribution supply chain contributes an additional $967 million and another 5,500 jobs.

As a business sector, Maine’s lobster fishery is a primary economic driver. By law, every Maine lobsterman is a small, self-employed

business owner. Each runs his or her own boat and lives, works, and spends earnings locally, making lobstering income the foundation
of Maine’s coastal economy.

Maine lobster landings and value
Maine lobster license and tags issued
Resources on Management of the Maine Lobster Fishery

MLA Advocacy

The Maine Lobstermen's Association (MLA) was founded in 1954 and is the oldest and largest fishing industry association on the east coast. The MLA advocates 
for a sustainable lobster resource and the fishermen and communities that depend on it.
 
The MLA is engaged on issues that affect the future of the lobster fishery. Issues range from management of the lobster fishery, 
bait resources, interactions with protected species, ocean development and state legislative issues.
 

MLA’s Work has Shaped Today’s Successful Fishery

 2020s: MLA leads the lobster industry’s effort to save Maine’s lobster fishery and endangered right whales. MLA sued the federal government 
challenging the draconian 10 year whale plan. MLA asserts the government’s plan relies on arbitrary assumptions and ignores the best available
science. MLA is also an intervenor in litigation brought against the federal government by environmental groups seeking more stringent whale protections.
 
2010s: MLA pushed for an area-based approach to Whale rules keeping 70% of Maine waters exempt from the Federal Whale rules. MLA continued 
to fight to keep draggers out of lobster and for smart management of herring and menhaden.
 
2000s: MLA fought for a stable bait supply by protecting the inshore herring fishery and developing new research to measure the size of the herring stock.
 
1990s: MLA fought to prevent unlimited dragging of lobsters in offshore waters outside of Maine through the 100 per day, 500 per trip limits.
 
1980s: MLA fought to keep draggers out of the fishery, again, and convinced managers to accept Maine’s core conservation practices of v-notching, 
maximum 5”, and minimum 3 ¼” gauges.
 
1970s: MLA convinced Congress to pass a law saving Maine lobstermen thousands of dollars each year by not paying payroll taxes on sternmen.
 
1960s: MLA persuaded politicians that lobster traps are the only gear that should catch lobsters and draggers were kept out.
 

Keeping our Members Informed

The MLA works with its sister organization, the Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance (MLCA), to publish and distribute 
the monthly lobster industry newspaper, Landings, to all Maine lobstermen. The paper includes the MLA Pages, with updates on MLA’s ongoing work.