By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,201)
Celebrity Cruises has agreed to buy approximately 3,800 pounds of Maine lobster when the cruise ship Celebrity Summit visits Portland and Bar Harbor in September and October, stated a press release issued moments ago from the office of Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. The cruise ship carries more than 2,000 passengers and will purchase lobster during two visits to Portland next month and a stop in Bar Harbor in October.
This is in response to a letter Congresswoman Pingree sent on August 13, to every company head of every company that owns a cruise ship visiting Portland this year. The letter urges them to buy Maine lobster for their passengers while in port.
“I am writing to you today to strongly urge you to consider buying fresh-off-the-boat Maine lobster when the Carnival Glory calls in Maine this year. Maine lobstermen are in the middle of a record breaking season. Not only does the ample supply guarantee a good value for your company, but purchasing locally sourced seafood would set a great example for other companies like yours in strengthening Maine’s economy and coastal communities. In fact, the vitality of our fishing industry is inextricably linked to the health and character of the coastal communities that entice and thrill your passengers,” the August letter stated.
At the time of the August letter, Congresswoman Pingree said she wrote the letter because the cruise ship industry serves a lot of lobster to its passengers, but ships visiting Portland haven’t typically taken adantage of local lobster suppliers while in port. “This could be a big untapped market for whole salers in the area,” Pingree said. “And sometimes in a situation like this you just have to get the attention of the heads of these big corporations to get them to notice what we have to offer here in Maine.”
The Portland lobster market has suffered because of a glut of soft shell lobsters on the market. Lobstermen typically have been getting paid only $2.00 a lb. this summer. Earlier this summer, many lobstermen up and down the coast stopped lobstering because their expenses were outweighing the price received from whole sale busineses in the state. The glut continues although many lobstermen have returned to work.