March 7, 2018

With health of industry at stake, Maine Lobstermen’s Assoc. elects new president

Photo / James McCarthy
Photo / James McCarthy
Lobster boats in the harbor of Isle au Haut. After 27 years of being led by David Cousens of South Thomaston, the Maine Lobstermen's Association elected Kristan Porter of Cutler on March 2 as its new president.

At the 64th annual meeting of the Maine Lobstermen's Association elected Kristan Porter of Cutler on March 2 as its new president.

The PenBay Pilot reported the election followed the retirement of president David Cousens, a South Thomaston lobstermen who held the position for 27 years.

"The MLA has always been a strong voice when big issues come up in the state or in Washington," Porter said in a news release. "We have always been there at the table. That's what we do best and it's for all lobstermen. Whether you're a member of the MLA or not, we have your back," Porter said in a news release.

Porter's election coincided with last week's announcement that lobster landings were down last year by 16% and with the outgoing president warning of the industry's overcapitalization.

"We all want to make sure that there are lobsters to harvest in Maine for the next generation and the generation after that," Porter told the Pilot.

Cousens was the fourth person to hold the position in the MLA's 64-year history, according to the Maine Lobstermen's Community Alliance newsletter Landings. He took over from MLA president Ed Blackmore in 1991, and helped oversee a fishery that grew from just over 30 million pounds at that time to 130 million pounds now.

Cousens also sits on the board of the Island Institute, where he is involved with the impact of climate change on the Gulf of Maine and its fisheries. He told the newsletter Landings he is concerned about what might happen to Maine's lobstermen in the future.

"The younger generation had better pay attention to what's going on," Cousens said. "We're overcapitalized now. Back in the 1980s we were landing 20 million pounds, not 130 million. Until the 1990s you didn't make any money lobstering. And now with all these offshore boats at $500,000, what are you going to do when things drop off ?"

Porter has been a member of the MLA for many years, has served on the board since 2002 and is one of the MLA's two vice-presidents. He helped establish the Downeast Draggermen's Association in the 1990s, served on the state's Sea Urchin Zone Council, sits on the scallop advisory panel of the New England Fishery Management Council and is president of the Maine Fishermen's Forum board of directors.


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