APNewsBreak: Maine fishermen set record $585M haul in 2014

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ROCKPORT, Maine (AP) — Maine's fishermen hauled in a huge catch worth a state record $585 million last year, buoyed by an unprecedented surge in the value of the state's beloved lobsters.

State fishery officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that the total value of the catch jumped $44 million from 2013 to 2014. Lobsters accounted for more than $456 million of the total in 2014, an all-time high according to state data that goes back to the 19th century. Lobsters grew in value by more than $86 million from 2013.

Maine accounts for more than 80 percent of all U.S. lobster, and fishermen and regulators said 2014 was an especially lucrative year for the New England staple. The total catch of more than 123 million pounds of lobster was slightly off the record years of 2013 and 2012, but value jumped, fueled by growing Asian imports and a summer boom in catch that overlapped with domestic demand. The growth in lobster value also meant prices to consumers rose in some restaurants and fish markets.

A $1.8 million increase in the value of Maine's resurgent scallop fishery also helped, state officials said. The state has implemented new management methods for scallops since the fishery fell to an all-time low in catch in 2005.

The officials said this year's totals show softshell clams regaining the second-most valuable spot from elvers, which are baby eels. Elvers surpassed the clams in 2012 and 2013, due in part to demand from Asia. Officials said a new quota system for elvers reduced their total catch. Elvers fell to about $8.5 million in 2014, down from more than $40 million in 2012, state data show.