Although the state of Maine has gained world-wide recognition for its famed lobster industry, the eastern Canadian border casts a long shadow over Maine’s shoreside processing infrastructure. Last year, of the 126 million pounds of American lobster landed in Maine, over 60 million pounds were immediately shipped over the boarder to be processed and distributed to seafood buyers near and far. The economic consequences of this exportation weigh heavily on many locals from Maine, who would much rather see this local catch processed and distributed from local shoreside businesses. In addition, about 75% of the lobster processed in eastern Canada is bought by US markets & restaurants, making many feel that Americans are missing out on an important opportunity to keep local products local.
An item up for referendum this November will allow Maine voters to push funds towards developing Maine’s shoreside lobster processing infrastructure. The proposal, supported by Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash, would funnel $7 million in public funding towards the industry, allowing for the substantial construction and development of new facilities to keep this local product stateside. Sen. Troy opted to support the bill after meeting with local ME industry members who claimed that one of the major obstacles to growing their businesses is the lack of shoreside processing available for this key domestic product. As one of the most effectively managed and most sustainable fisheries in our nation, there is no doubt that we should be seizing opportunities to better market and profit off American lobster.
Our neighbors over the border are not thrilled with this proposal, as it would significantly impact their lobster imports and create a more substantial competitor in their own backyard. You can read more of the Canadian perspective on this referendum by clicking here and reading an article recently published in the Halifax Business Herald.
Fox business also posted an article on the referendum issue, which you can read by clicking here. We will see what Maine voters decide come November.