The Island Institute, Rockland, and Luke’s Lobster, Portland, have announced a strategic partnership that leverages more than $2.5 million in funding and shares financial resources to build new markets for Maine’s premium seafood that will drive economic activity in coastal communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Maine’ fishermen and coastal communities in an unprecedented way. Diminished demands for Maine’s seafood has left Maine’s marine economy at risk according to a press release issued by Island Institute.
The partnership has a dual purpose: to build resistance in the seafood supply chain and provide opportunities for Maine’s fishermen and aquaculturists. The joint venture endeavor between Luke’s Lobster and the Island Institute is a continuation of a longstanding collaboration; for years, these two entities have worked to strengthen Maine’s coastal communities, partnering with fishermen and community leaders to improve resistance along the shore.
Funding will be used to build and diversity the Luke’s Lobster e-commerce business, creating a business model built on a commitment to social outcomes and sustainability that others can learn from and replicate across the country. By increasing the availability of lobster, crab, scallops, oysters, and other high quality Maine seafood (both farmed and wild caught), the Island Institute and Luke’s seeks to bolster demand for Maine seafood and ensure enduring opportunities for Maine’s fishing communities.
“Our response to the pandemic is focused on minimizing potentially catastrophic community and economic disruptions while building resilience in anticipation of future crises,” explained Rob Snyder, president of the Island Institute. “Down the peninsulas and out on the islands we have upwards of 60% to 70% self-employment. One way the Island Institute support communities is by helping businesses leverage technology like e-commerce, so that they can stay in touch with and reach new customers. The lessons we learn from our partnerships with Luke’s Lobster will be instrumental in strengthening Maine’s coastal businesses, while informing similar efforts around the country.”
In a nimble pivot to keep buying from fishermen and bringing seafood to consumers, Luke’s Lobster launched its e-commerce platform within days of having to close all but one of its 26 national shacks and its 11 international shacks. Initially the direct-to-consumer platform offered its existing seafood inventory, but quickly added seasonal seafood products with short harvest windows such as Gulf of Maine dayboat scallops and fresh halibut. The success of Luke’s Lobster’s on-line platform will be enhanced through this project, bringing additional Maine seafood products to consumers.
Beyond the economic benefit Maine seafood producers, harvesters, or fishermen interested in offering their products on the Luke’s Lobster website should contact them. All applicants will be considered through an objective process which includes review by a selection committee made up of two members from Luke’s, two members from the Island Institute and a member from the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. All Maine seafood-related businesses are encouraged to apply, regardless of size.
Funding for this partnership comes from Silican Valley Community Foundation, Luke’s Lobster and the Island Institute.
Island Institute, is a 37 year old non-profit organization, based in Rockland. It has a wonderful store selling the outstanding work of nearby crafters as well as outstanding publications noted for its photography. Luke’s, with its flagship restaurant on Portland Pier, has 26 lobster shacks nationally including Portland. It currently has 11 shacks internationally. It was co-founded by Luke Holden of Cape Elizabeth.
For more background, please visit post herein dated May 11, 2019 on Luke’s Lobsters.