Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Fisheries

Lobsters

Seagulls Surround a Lobster Boat, Half Way Rock, Casco Bay (2004)

Historically Lobsters, now a major factor in Maine’s commercial fisheries,  were once so plentiful that Native Americans used them to fertilize fields and to bait fish hooks.  According to Colin Woodward, in 1608 with the Popham Colony failing, Lobsters were … Continue reading

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Mahogany Quahog Harvests

Mahogany Quahog Harvests 1984-2011

Mahogany Quahog (also known as “mahogany clams” or “hardshell clams”) harvests by commercial fishermen, in recent times, peaked in 1986.  A drop in the mid-1990s recovered for about ten years, then dipped to about $2.5 million in recent years. Since … Continue reading

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Monkfish Landings

Monkfish Landings 1974-2011

Commercial fishermen who harvest monkfish, also known as American goosefish, have had substantial landings for most of the period 1974 through 2011.  However, the recent rapid decline since the peak in 2005 is troubling and may signal several year of … Continue reading

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Northern Quahog Harvests

Northern Quahog Harvests 1984-2011

Harvesting Northern Quahogs by commercial fishermen has been a rocky business over the period for which data is available. (Gaps are related to quota regulations to protect the resource.) Otherwise known as “hard clams,” these shellfish are sometimes completely absent … Continue reading

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Periwinkle Harvests

Periwinkle Harvest 1950-2011

Historically low periwinkle harvests by commercial fishermen (averaging about 118,000 pounds per year) suddenly spiked in 1989 to 3.8 million pounds, then crashed to a level since 1993 of averaging about 616,000 pounds. In a narrow range of 6 to … Continue reading

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Scallop Landings

Scallop Landings 1950-2011

Scallop landing by commercial fishermen spiked in 1961 and in 1991, followed in each case by years of reduced landings. Total value was low from 1950 through 1970, regardless of the volume of meat obtained.  Since 1970 total value has … Continue reading

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Shrimp Landings

Shrimp Landings 1962-2011

Despite an increasing tonnage of  shrimp landings in recent years, the 2013 season will  feature a landing quota equal to about 25% of the 2012 season’s landings.  Historically the shrimp populations have varied substantially. Marine scientists believe that the resource … Continue reading

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Skate Landings

Skate Landings 1973-2011

Since 1973 the commercial fishery for skate had two, short lived, peaks.  It  has yet to recover from the decline that began in 1995.  The retuen had been modest at best, reaching $.25 per pound briefly.   YEAR POUNDS VALUE … Continue reading

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Tidal Flats

Tidal flats are a substantial resource harboring a variety of species, including clams, quahogs, marine worms, lobster larvae, and crabs. These resources are endangered by polluted water runoff from residential and commercial activities. The video clip below shows clam survey … Continue reading

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Total Value Fish Landings

Total Value of Commercial Fisheries Landings 1950-2007

The following indicates the total value of all landings from commercial fisheries  in Maine.  It includes shellfish as well as fin fish. Since about 1975, the rate of change in current dollars has increased, especially since 1990. YEAR TOTAL 1950 … Continue reading

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Urchin Harvests

Urchin Harvest 1964-2011

Once little exploited by commercial fishermen, urchin harvesting began in earnest in the mid-1980s. After reaching a peak in 1993, harvests declined to less than one-tenth of that in the peak year, with the total value falling in step. As … Continue reading

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White Hake Landings

White Hake Landings 1950-2011

From 1950 through 2005, commercial fishermen have taken an average of 4.5 million pounds of white hake per year. Since 2005 that average has dropped to 1 million pounds, lower than any other period since 1950. Begginning in 1985 the … Continue reading

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Winter Flounder Landings

Winter Flounder Landings 1950-2011

The boom and bust cycle of winter flounder landings by commercial fishermen has “busted” after a peak in 1982. With the scarcity, price per pound had been climbing until the fishery was closed in 2007. According to NOAA’s FishWatch program, … Continue reading

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Witch Flounder Landings

Witch Flounder Landings 1950-2011

Commercial fishermen are landing fewer pounds of Witch Flounder than ever since 1950.  Very high unusual landings in the 1980s have been followed by a severe decline that has practically eliminated the fishery. In response, the price per pound has … Continue reading

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Wolffish Landings

Wolffish Landings 1950-2011

After declining from 1950 to 1977, landings spiked then crashed with a consistent decline until the fishery was suspended in 2010.  During the decline in landings and total value, the price per pound continued to rise. In the deep ocean … Continue reading

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Yellowtail Flounder Landings

Yellowtail Flounder Landings 1950-2011

This species of the commercial fishery has a post-1950 history familiar to many others: moderate or low production, then a spike with several years of substantial landings, then a crash followed by a forced closure to rebuild the stock. It … Continue reading

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