Health and catch certificates assist live lobster exporters



By Angel Wilson

ELLSWORTH — The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) began a partnership with the NOAA Seafood Inspection Program in 2016 that has helped Maine live lobster exporters ship their product overseas more efficiently.

The new partnership, in which Maine DMR Public Health Bureau staff members are authorized to certify that lobster shipments meet the unique requirements of each importing country, is an effort to help Maine exporters meet the needs of overseas customers for timely shipments of live lobsters.

Previously, exporters had to arrange for certificates with the NOAA office in Gloucester, Mass., which sometimes meant a delay in receiving the certificates necessary for a shipment to occur. Now, with DMR staff providing the certifications, Maine lobster exporters can often receive certificates the same day they are requested, and shipments can get sent sooner.

The authority for Maine DMR staff to certify shipments was the result of training conducted by NOAA for four members of DMR’s Public Health Bureau staff. DMR’s Public Health Bureau also administers the Maine Shellfish Dealer Certification Program outlined by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program to evaluate and certify all wholesale shellfish dealers in Maine. These dealers must be certified under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program to ship, or process shellfish for shipment within and outside of the state of Maine.

DMR routinely works with exporters who send live lobsters to China and the European Union. However, DMR can issue different types of export certificates, depending on the shipping destination and country-specific requirements. In 2017, DMR processed over 700 certificates for overseas shipments of live Maine lobster.

More detailed information for the NOAA Seafood Inspection Program can be found at http://www.seafood.nmfs.noaa.gov/.