WATCH LIVE

Winter Harbor Lobstermen Helping There Own Cause 

In Winter Harbor lobster fishing is big business, but for years, lobstermen here have been at the mercy of the market price. Bob Harmon is the manager of the Winter Harbor Lobster Co-Op and he’s seen the frustration firsthand. “We were tied to selling everyday,” says Harmon, “we had no facilities to store anything it had to be sold and the highest bidder takes away the product at the end of everyday.”Often times the highest bidder was an out of state wholesaler who would store the lobsters until the market price increased, then sell them back to Maine merchants. “Even today, a lot of our product goes to Canada, is processed in Canada, and is sent back to the U.S.” says Harmon, “the lobstermen are all frustrated by that because they see the middle man taking a big chunk of their profit.” Their frustration continued to grow. “You look at some of the retail outlets in the area,” Harmon explains, “and lobster is $8 or $9 a pound and our lobstermen are being paid $2 or $3 a pound and they’re struggling to survive right now, that $6 in between is a big chunk, they would like a little piece of that.”A group of 32 lobstermen decided enough was enough. “About 3 years ago, the Co-Op members here got together and started thinking about expanding the facility with a holding tank,” Harmon says, “so we could keep some lobsters here for a period of time and hope to generate increased revenue”There solution is a $300,000 holding tank that can store around 20,000 pounds of lobster. Now the lobstermen here will no longer be forced to sell at the market price of the day. They can now store the lobsters themselves. The hope is to cut out the middle man and keep the lion’s share of the profits with the fishermen here in Winter Harbor. “With the tank operational and we’re looking to into expanding that market now and generating new markets,” Harmon says.The new tank will allow them to sell the lobster online to out of state customers and keep the profits here, on the shores of Acadia where these fishermen believe it belongs. Now that their idea has become reality, all the eyes of the lobstering community are squarely on the folks in Winter Harbor. “They’re watching closely to see how we make out,” says Harmon, “we’ve had a lot of interested people calling to look at the tank, everybody wants to see how it works out, there are other Co-Ops in the area that are looking at the same kind of thing to see if we can actually generate a profit with this.”They hope to have their website up and running in a few days for ordering and shipping. You can find them at www.winterharborlobster.com.