PORT CLYDE, ME – Linda Bean brings a famous name and a passion for her home state to the challenge of helping achieve the desirable ‘eco’ label of the London-based Marine Stewardship Council to Maine’s lobster industry.
The certification drive, a grassroots fundraising effort to which her family company, L.L. Bean, has contributed $50,000, would put Maine’s wild lobster catch in high demand, well positioned for both US and global markets at a time which sustainable seafood is a hot commodity. With other members of a governor- appointed group, Bean is working with lobstermen and others to attain certification. “They’ve been using sustainable practices since the 1930s,” she points out. The effort has been organized to be a “grassroots achievement,” she says. “We are taking charge of our own future.
The certification is an important element needed for the future of our industry.” She’s also launched a new multifaceted brand, Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine®, for her seafood line of live native lobsters shipped direct from Port Clyde and Vinal Haven wharves, along with added-value products developed in her kitchen, featuring lobster and wild caught Maine shrimp.Now one of Maine’s largest lobster dealers with a supply estimated at 2.2 million pounds this year, Bean is selling authentic Maine hard shell lobsters with claw tags that identify their origin. Turn the tag over and it reads: “Wild Caught in U.S.A. by Maine Fishermen Using Sustainable Practices.”
In addition, she’s created a line of value-added products including a creamy lobster stew and lobster rolls, This summer, she opened takeout counters in Freeport and Rockland, ME and expects to do more in Florida this winter. If successful, the program will be expanded and could even be franchised, she says. Much of Maine’s soft shell lobster catch goes to processors, she explains, and is cooked for products.
A shortage of processors in the U.S. has meant much of that lobster gets sold in Canada. She envisions a growth model for an industry now under pressure from Canadian processors that would eliminate as many middlemen as possible to become more profitable. “A huge percentage (of the catch) is shipped off to Canada and returned back to us at higher prices,” Bean points out. The value-added line she’s developing is positioned for “green and sustainable markets” such as supermarkets, club stores, national chain and independent restaurants. Visit www.lindabeansperfect- Maine.com for information.