Lobsters love the Maine coast because of its environment of cold, clean water and rocky bottom habitat ideal for lobsters.
Maine lobster makes a major contribution to the state's economy. In 2012, the catch exceeded 126 million pounds and generated over $338 million in ex-vessel or dock value. The fishery includes over 5,900 licensed lobster harvesters, and supports businesses such as processors, dealers, marine outfitters, boat makers, retailers and restaurants. This vital fishing industry supports hundreds of small, coastal villages and communities that give Maine its unique character.
Lobsters in Maine are harvested by boat captains independently or with one or two assistants. Lobstering in Maine is largely an in-shore fishery, with boats generally making day trips within 10-12 miles of shore. Each harvester can fish up to 800 traps, hauling and setting a portion of their traps each day. The colorful buoys dotting the Maine coastline are like registered trademarks for the harvesters. Each lobsterman registers his or her buoy markings with the State.
Maine is well-known for its delicious new shell lobsters. About once a year, mature lobsters shed their tough, old shell for a new, larger shell that hardens over time. These new-shell lobsters yield a succulent, flavorful meat in a shell that can often be cracked by hand. "New Shells" are much sought after by lobster aficionados, or, as we call them, lobster lovers.
Lobsters are harvested year-round in Maine, although the majority are caught between late June and late December when the lobsters are most active. Lobsters continue to be harvested during the winter and early spring months, although fewer are caught during this time.