When Is Lobster Season In Maine 2022? What You Need To Know

Lobster season in Maine is a highly anticipated time of year for seafood lovers and fishermen alike.

With its rich history and commitment to sustainability, the Maine lobster industry is a vital part of the state’s culture and economy.

But when exactly is lobster season in Maine for 2022?

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of lobsters caught off the coast of Maine, the best time to catch them, and how global climate change is affecting the industry.

So grab your bib and butter, and let’s dive into the world of Maine lobster!

When Is Lobster Season In Maine 2022?

Lobster season in Maine typically runs year-round, but the peak season is between late June and late December. During this time, lobsters are the most active, making it easier for fishermen to catch them.

However, lobster fishing also takes place during the winter and early spring months, albeit in smaller quantities. Regardless of the season, the Gulf of Maine is the most active area for lobster fishing, accounting for more than two-thirds of the U.S.’s lobster catches.

In 2022, lobster fishermen and seafood enthusiasts are looking forward to another bountiful season. The industry is gearing up for its peak season from June to November, with consumers indulging in one of the most beloved seafoods at home and in restaurants around the country.

The Types Of Lobsters Caught Off The Coast Of Maine

Maine is famous for its delicious lobsters, but did you know that there are different types of lobsters caught off the coast of Maine? The most common lobster found in Maine is the American lobster, also known as the Maine lobster. These lobsters have a dark color with small hints of red and can weigh up to 40 pounds. They have eight walking legs and two large edible claws.

Another type of lobster found in Maine is the spiny or rock lobster. These lobsters are found in warmer waters and are often called sea crayfish. They do not have large edible claws like the Maine lobster, but only tiny claws that don’t have any edible meat. The spiny lobster only has marketable meat in its tail.

Maine also has a smaller population of European lobsters, which are smaller than American lobsters and have a greenish-blue color. They have two large claws, one for crushing and one for cutting, and are often served in European dishes.

Lastly, there are also rare-colored lobsters found off the coast of Maine, including albino, cotton candy, and yellow lobsters. These rare-colored lobsters are usually released back into the ocean instead of being eaten.

The Best Time To Catch Lobsters In Maine

The best time to catch lobsters in Maine is during the peak season, which runs from late June to late December. This is when lobsters are the most active and easiest to catch. During the summer months, fishermen can catch both soft shell and hard shell lobsters, with hard shell lobsters being more abundant due to demand and nicer conditions.

As the weather warms up, lobster fishing picks up, and prices drop in May and June. May is one of the best months of the year to buy live lobsters, as supplies are plentiful, and the lobsters are at their firmest and meatiest after the cold weather months.

It’s also worth noting that lobsters migrate offshore during the winter months, into the deeper, warmer waters of the North Atlantic to grow comfortably into their hard shells. As summer approaches, they migrate back inshore to molt, making it easier for fishermen to catch them closer to shore.

Changes In Lobster Season Due To Climate Change

However, climate change is affecting the lobster industry in Maine and across New England. Lobsters are cold water animals, and as the ocean temperatures rise, they are forced to migrate to cooler waters in deeper areas. This migration pattern has caused a shift in lobster populations, with lobsters moving further north in search of cooler waters.

This shift has had a significant impact on lobster fishing communities along the New England coast. While lobster catches have plummeted in Southern New England, they have skyrocketed in Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. This trend is due to lobsters moving north to escape the warming waters.

The warming trend has also caused changes in the timing of lobster molting, making lobsters more susceptible to diseases. This has led to concerns among fishermen and researchers about the long-term viability of the industry. Lobstermen are already feeling the effects of climate change, with some seeing a decline in their catch and earnings.

To adapt to these changes, members of the lobster industry and research organizations are working hard to find solutions. Many fishermen have started travelling greater distances to catch lobsters in deeper, cooler waters. However, this has increased the energy demand of fishing boats and released more carbon dioxide.

Sustainability Practices In The Maine Lobster Industry

Maine’s lobster industry has a long history of sustainability practices, dating back to 1872 when regulations were first put in place to protect egg-bearing females. Today, the industry continues to prioritize sustainable practices to maintain a healthy lobster population and protect the ocean environment.

One of the most notable sustainability practices in the Maine lobster industry is the “v-notch” system. Fishermen are required to cut a “v-notch” in the tail of every egg-bearing female lobster they catch and throw her back into the ocean. This ensures that breeding females are protected and can continue to contribute to the brood stock. Additionally, any female lobster caught with or without eggs that has a “v-notch” must be thrown back, further protecting the brood stock.

The industry also sets size restrictions on lobsters that can be harvested. Fishermen cannot keep lobsters with a carapace smaller than 3-1/4 inches or larger than 5 inches. This allows juvenile lobsters to grow and mature before being caught, maximizing their breeding potential.

To manage effort on the fishery, trap limits have been set, and there is a limited entry requirement for commercial lobster licenses. This means that it is difficult to obtain a commercial license unless one has gone through an apprentice program, ensuring that young lobstermen learn about sustainability measures.

Another significant sustainability practice in the Maine lobster industry is the owner-operator requirement. Fishermen who have a license are the only ones who can fish their traps, ensuring individual responsibility for the fishery and pride in its sustainability. This requirement has helped Maine fishing communities stay afloat economically and has bucked the trend of corporate conglomerates.

Maine’s lobster industry partners with scientific and environmental organizations to adapt their techniques, equipment, and practices to meet changing environmental needs. Low-impact gear is developed and used to protect juvenile lobsters and the ocean environment, and tail notching is used to protect breeding females. Legislation opposing indiscriminate lobster harvesting by dragging has been opposed.

The Economic Impact Of Lobster Season In Maine.

The lobster season in Maine is not only a time of excitement for seafood enthusiasts but also a significant contributor to the state’s economy. According to a recent economic study, the lobster supply chain in Maine generates $1 billion in economic activity each year and provides 4,000 jobs throughout the state.

The industry’s impact on the state’s economy is undeniable, with many communities relying on the lobster fishery for household income. In fact, an average of 83% of household income in these communities comes from fishing. The industry has faced challenges in recent years, including increased operating costs, bait shortages, and ex-vessel price instabilities. However, despite these challenges, the lobster industry in Maine bounced back in 2021 and set a record $725 million for the total value of lobsters brought to the docks.

The per-pound price of lobster soared in 2021, contributing to the record high value. The price to fishermen at the docks rose to $6.71 per pound, an increase of about 60% from 2020 and easily a state record. The strong year came at a time when the American lobster industry is adjusting to stricter new fishing restrictions meant to protect rare North Atlantic right whales.

Looking ahead, the economic impact of the lobster season in Maine is expected to remain strong. The industry is an essential part of Maine’s coastal economy and identity, with a commitment to quality that follows every lobster from trap to table. As lobster season approaches in 2022, fishermen and seafood enthusiasts alike are eagerly anticipating another successful season.