Love your Lobstermen

The effort and process put into getting that sweet, delicious Maine lobster to your plate is far more complex than one would think.

Mitchell Farley, Staff Writer

Every summer, thousands upon thousands of tourists flock to Maine. Many for the beautiful coast, others come for the camping and some to simply get away. However, there is one thing in Maine that everyone comes for: the lobster.

Everyone out there wants a taste of the world-renowned lobster that lives abundant along the shores and coastal waters of Maine. But no one understands what it takes to catch these crustaceans. Fishing for lobster is a dangerous and difficult task.  

For me, the mornings usually start off by waking up around 5:00-5:30. Once all of the mates are at the docks and the engine is fired up and he crew head out to sea. Everyone may think that lobstering is as simple as pulling up traps full of lobsters all the time. However, often times when a trap is hauled to the surface, there is nothing to show for but a crab and some snails.

    Sea conditions can be very dangerous as well, lobstering in seas that are 4 feet and upwards can be very dangerous. Objects on board can become projectiles and can injure crew members. In some instances, crew members have even fallen overboard. It can be very difficult to retrieve a crew member that has fallen overboard even if the ship is inside of one mile offshore, nevertheless miles offshore. In some cases, lobstering vessels cannot even leave harbor if the sea is too rough. There have been many times where my friends and I have had to turn back because the ocean was simply too dangerous to work on. Over the years we have come to find that the ocean is always in control. Rough seas have even taken the lives of some lobster-men.

    Even on calm days the job isn’t as glorified as everyone makes it out to be. The constant smell of salted, oily herring and flatfish fills the air around the vessel. It is even worse for the crew member that works with the bait bags. I despised when we started to get low on bait because I would have to reach all the way to the bottom of the smelly bait barrel. By the end of the day, the clothing that I wore would forever smell like lobster bait. Whenever I would return home from a long day on the water, my mother would always have me stay in the garage and change out of my clothes I wore due to the wretched smell of the bait we used. Bait isn’t the only negative part of the job, sometimes traps can get caught underneath rocks and can cause problems up on the vessel. The hauler keeps pulling the trap line even if the trap is caught. I vividly remember one day as soon as we hooked up the trap line we knew something was wrong. We turned the switch that brought the hydraulic hauler to life, however, no line was spilling onto the deck of the boat. The gunnel (side of the boat) was immediately wrenched down to the water line. It was very clear that the trap deep below us was caught up on something. If we kept pinning the hauler, we were sure to start taking on massive amounts of water, or worst case, capsize. In a split second, the hauler was turned off and the boat shot back to it’s normal buoyant position. Had we been in our previous boat (which was far smaller than the current vessel), the outcome could have been far worse.

Lobster-men endure all of these dangers just to catch the North American lobster that yields some of the sweetest and best meat on the planet.

So the next time lobster is served to you, think of the lobster-men that endure smelly bait, dangerous waters, and long days to bring you this delicious seafood treasure.