27 Pound Lobster Released Back Into Wild Off Boothbay Harbor

There is good news for Rocky the lobster.  The 27-pound lobster was released back into the wild off Boothbay Harbor, Maine on February 27, 2012,  just a few days after being captured in a shrimp fishermen’s net.

27 pound lobster
(AP) Maine State Aquarium Director Aimee Hayden-Rodriques holds a 27 pound, nearly 40 inch long, lobster caught by Robert Malone off the coast of Maine near Rockland, Maine on Feb. 17, 2012. The aquarium named the crustacean “Rocky.”

The lobster measured more than 40 inches long and was so big he actually jammed up the escape grates in the shrimp nets which are designed to let lobster go free. The lobster was caught by Robert Malone off the coast of Maine, near Rockland, about five miles out to sea.  Surprised by the lobster’s size,  Malone had a Marine Patrol warden take the lobster to the Maine State Aquarium in Boothbay.   Malone hails from Cushing, Maine,

The aquarium folks thought the crusher claw was probably big enough to really pack a punch so they named the lobster “Rocky.”  According to Elaine Jones, education director for the state’s Department of Marine Resources, Rocky could break a person’s arm.

Maine fishermen aren’t allowed to keep lobsters that are more than five inches from eye stalk to tail.  But even so, Rocky was never in any danger of becoming the guest of honor in a lobster pot – how would you even cook something so large?

Instead Rocky became an instant celebrity.   After posing for news photos and the television cameras, it was decided that Rocky should be retuned to the wild. Even the aquarium was not set up to meet the needs of such a large lobster.  And so he was released.  Everyone expects he will make his way right back out to the deep ocean waters where he will continue to breed.

baby and 27 pound lobster
(Maine State Aquarium Photo on Facebook)

Rocky was not the largest lobster ever caught.  There is a 1977 record of a 44.5 pound lobster caught in Nova Scotia.  Still the 27 pound beast was impressive.

Aquarium officials said that large lobsters like Rocky are considered brood stock.  It is unusual for them to be in shallow waters close to shore.  They favor the deep ocean.  Officials know there is a population of giant lobsters out there on the bottom of the ocean. And they expect that soon Rocky will be back with the others.

© Wayne Howe 2012

Maine Record Lobster Harvest Tops 100 Million Pounds in 2011

Another record was set by Maine lobster fishermen in 2011 with more than 100 million pounds of live Maine lobster harvested during the year, the Maine Department of Marine Resources announced.  The previous record of 94.7 million pounds was set in 2010.

It was a good year for  lobster aficionados with the Maine record lobster harvest providing in 2011 plenty of fresh lobster for the cook pots.

The state’s preliminary catch numbers for 2011 illustrates just how strong the lobster resource remains, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher recently told The Associated Press. The previous record of 94.7 million pounds, worth more than $313 million, was set in 2010.

This was the first time Maine lobster fishermen caught more than 100 million pounds, with officials stating it is a sign that the lobster is alive and well in Maine and that conservation methods embraced by the industry has paid off.

Downeast Maine Lobster Boat
A Downeast Maine Lobster Boat with Traps

The catch has been rising steadily, according to records.  The harvest topped 80 million pounds for the first time in 2009 and 90 million in 2010.   Back in the 1980’s a 25 million pounds harvest was the norm.

While southern New England states – Massachusetts, Rhode Islandand, Connecticut — have reported a drop in the amount of lobster caught, Maine’s signature seafood is continuing to show strong growth, officials said.

Carl Wilson, a lobster biologist with the Department of Marine Resources, said in the report that the catch has been particularly strong in the waters off the eastern half of Maine’s long ragged coast and is holding its own in the  in the western half of the state’s waters.

The report said lobster in recent years has become increasingly important to Maine’s fishing industry overall, as ground fish, scallops, urchins and other seafood sectors have fallen off.  Out of the total of Maine’s overall seafood harvest, lobster now accounts for about 70 percent of the value.

Although the lobster harvest was strong last year, lobstermen said they are concerned about the low prices they’ve been getting from the dealers. The boat prices, the price a wharf dealer pays the lobster boat owner, have never fully recovered from the 2008 economic meltdown.  A boat owner recently reported that 43% of his sales went to cover the cost of fuel, bait and the sternman crew.  The boat owner said he spent another 13% on other expenses.  The boat owner said he has been lucky that he has not had to cover any major repair expenses and is hoping the boat price recovers this season.

Officials said the final volume report along with the dollar value would be ready by the end of February.

© Wayne Howe 2012