THE US state of Maine, which recently announced two land based salmon farm projects, netted more than half a billion dollars in wild catch revenues last year.
The New England state’s commercial fishermen landed catches worth $569,173,089, the fourth highest ever or record and only the sixth time the figure has passed £500 million, reports the Department of Marine Resources.
Governor Paul R. LePage said: ‘Maine’s commercial harvesters have again established our state as a leader in the sustainable, responsible management of marine resources.
‘Not only do they contribute greatly to our state’s economy, they consistently deliver the best seafood in the world.’
Lobster landings in 2017 were the sixth highest on record at 110,819,760 pounds (lbs), despite declining by 16 per cent from 2016.
The value also dropped from $4.08 a pound (lb) in 2016 to $3.91 a pound to give a total value of $433,789,855, which still represented the fourth highest landed value for Maine’s iconic fishery.
According to National Marine Fisheries Service data, American lobster was the species of highest landed value in the US in 2015 and 2016, and Maine’s landings accounted for approximately 80 per cent of that landed value in 2016.
Herring, the primary bait source for the lobster industry, again represented the second most valuable commercial fishery at $17,993,786 on the strength of a record per-pound price of 27 cents.
Despite a drop of nearly four million pounds landed and a dip of $3.8 million in value, Maine’s softshell clam industry remained the third most valuable commercial fishery at $12,363,328.
‘Landings declined in part due to closures associated with harmful algal blooms,’ said DMR Public Health Bureau director Kohl Kanwit.
The decline in value is due in part to reported increases in supply of softshell clams from outside Maine which affected the demand and value for Maine clams.
Scallop harvesters landed the most scallops since 1997, bringing ashore 793,544 meat lbs, a nearly 45 per cent jump from 2016. At $9,300,111, scallop landings had the highest overall value since 1993.
In the past few months, two companies – Nordic Aquaculture and Whole Oceans – have unveiled plans to invest a total of $750 million in two new land based salmon farms in the state, with production due to start within two years.