Community Reinvestment

Bank CEO Pushes Support For Lobster Industry

Challenges Faced By Treatment Of Right Whale

Keith Griffin

August 12, 2020

Larry Barker, the CEO of Machias Savings Bank, is actively pushing for support of the Maine lobster industry. He cites the impact of COVID-19 and the China trade war.

In an op-ed piece for the Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel, Barker wrote, “The Maine lobster industry is the backbone of our coastal communities from Portland to Eastport. Machias Savings Bank has been one of Maine’s leading sources of financing for this industry for decades and we understand that as the industry ebbs and flows, so do the economies of Maine’s coastal communities.”

The issue threatening the industry is the treatment of right whales. As Barker wrote, “All Mainers should be aware of how political pressure to reverse the decline of right whales is affecting our fishermen, bringing with it disastrous ripple effects that will affect tens of thousands of livelihoods across our treasured state. Despite Maine’s stellar track record in protecting right whales, this battleground recently resulted in the loss of a sustainability certification, which means loss of even more markets for Maine lobster.”

The article stated, according to the Department of Marine Resources, Maine’s lobster industry brought in approximately $500 million to Maine’s economy in 2018, accounting for more than three-quarters of the state’s annual commercially harvested marine resources. Tens of thousands of Maine businesses would be affected by the loss of lobstering – from the obvious restaurants and seafood shacks to the truck drivers who deliver the product and the souvenir shops that cater to the Maine experience.

The lobster industry is estimated to create over 35,000 jobs on the working waterfront, in addition to the 4,500 state-licensed lobstermen. The impact on this industry would cause a ripple effect that we can perhaps all understand a little more clearly after the supply chain shortages and business closures we’ve experienced firsthand over the past four months.

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