Socio-Cultural Changes in New England Lobster Fisheries: Policy, Perspective, and Community in Midcoast Maine

Authors: Melanie Nash*, University of Rhode Island, Melva Treviño-Peña, University of Rhode Island
Topics: Marine and Coastal Resources, Human-Environment Geography, Food Systems
Keywords: Fisheries, Lobster Fishing, New England, Ethnography, Community, Anthropology, Adaptation, Resilience
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 18
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Maine lobster industry is not only the most valuable local export, but also a large part of the state culture and identity. Environmental change will continue to push fisheries into new ways of functioning. In the lobster fishery, many people have noticed these changes and have started to engage in adaptive processes. This research investigates how lobster fishers in Midcoast Maine perceive environmental change, and seeks to identify the strategies they are adapting as a response to perceived and observed changes in the lobster fishery. This study was done using ethnographic and anthropological methods in order to best understand the community adaptation implication of changes in the Maine lobster fishery. In order to understand how far-reaching the implications of environmental change will be on small communities like those of coastal Maine, researchers must be willing to not only study the natural environment, but also listen to local experts. The goal of this work was to use a series of interviews to understand the social and cultural importance of lobster fishing to small communities in Midcoast Maine, and to understand how changes in that fishery are changing the community. This research was conducted largely via telephone and computer conference interviews. Interview participants are individuals with key connections to the lobster fishing industry, whether that be economically, socially, or academically. With the local knowledge of these participants and a community focused study, researchers can develop a more holistic understanding of the meaning of the lobster fishery in Maine.

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