ELLSWORTH — In 2009, while still dealing with the fallout from the 2008 global financial crisis, Maine’s lobster industry also found itself struggling to fend off competition from foreign seafood products, most notably Canadian live and processed lobster.
After the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in September 2010 Maine lobster harvesters were certified by the department’s Foreign Agricultural Service to be eligible under the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers Act (TAA) to receive training and cash benefits because increased imports of lobster during 2009, contributed to a decline of more than 15 percent in the value of the lobster harvest compared to an average of the three previous years. The deadline for lobstermen to apply to the program expired last December.
Last Wednesday, MLA Education Coordinator Annie Tselikis was in Ellsworth to conduct a TAA-sponsored workshop on lobster marketing. The session was one of several offered by MLA to lobstermen to help them fulfill the 12 hours of intensive training required by the program. The workshops are offered both live and online.
Only three fishermen, and one fisherman’s wife, attended the Ellsworth workshop.
“Attendance at workshops was heavier in the spring with sometimes 75 people attending the trainings,” Tselikis said. “Right now we’re competing with fall fishing and a steady volume of lobsters, not to mention the longer days out to haul.”