Maine’s Lobster Ladies Officially Kick Ass

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Early mornings, heavy traps, rough seas, and scary lobsters. These are just a few of the things that don’t intimidate the women working in Maine’s lobster industry. It’s a tough job, and not only because it requires being awake and on a boat at 5 a.m. It also means being surrounded by a lot of dudes. The expectation of masculinity is built into the language of the trade. Even female boat workers refer to themselves as sternmen, and fishing boats with names like “centerfold,” and “moneyshot” fill the harbor.

In 2016, women held just 8 percent of the active lobster licenses in Maine, but that doesn’t mean women don’t play a vital role in every part of the supply chain. Jobs in the industry go beyond just catching lobster. Before they make it to your plate, the crustaceans pass through several (occasionally manicured) hands. First they’re caught in a trap and hauled up by a fisherman, then they’re sold at a wharf, and finally the wharf sells to local restaurants and processing plants. One of the major buyers in the area is Luke’s Lobster, who needs over 4 million pounds annually to keep the summertime lobster rolls flowing.

Watch the video above to follow along with a boat captain, a scientist researching the health of the lobster population, and a bait-company owner as they navigate the daily challenge of catching and selling lobsters.

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