Business Overview

Lobster is a much-loved delicacy that many people pay premium prices for. Most of the cold-water lobsters used in recipes are caught by lobster fishing businesses in New England.

Since 2012, when a record-setting catch sent lobster prices plummeting, the lobster fishery has recovered and is now booming. The industry has invested heavily in education and marketing, creating new markets both domestically and abroad in China (where lobsters sell for as much as $100 each). Thanks to these efforts, lobster fishing businesses are now seeing near-record catches and prices for lobster are remaining high.

Who is this business right for?

Anyone who enjoys being on the water and working alone may enjoy running a lobster fishing business. Business owners spend a lot of time by themselves on their boats, pulling up and replacing lobster traps.

Some business owners catch lobster year-round, while others do it as a seasonal business. Winter brings harsh working conditions, and catches are sometimes smaller during the colder months.

What happens during a typical day at a lobster fishing business?

Catching lobster is hard work. Hauling days start before sunrise, and business owners will haul traps for hours on end. During this time, they’re:

  • Pulling up traps
  • Grabbing and banding lobsters
  • Removing debris from traps
  • Re-baiting traps
  • Dropping traps

At the end of the day, business owners bring their catch to a wharf where it’s sold.

On non-hauling days and during the winter, business owners spend time mending their traps, repairing their boat, and focusing on other aspects of their business.

What is the target market?

Cold water lobsters ultimately end up in restaurants and supermarkets, but lobster fishing businesses don’t sell directly to these businesses. Instead, fishers sell to wharf owners. Most wharf owner then sell catches to processors or distributors.

How does a lobster fishing business make money?

A lobster business makes money by selling the lobster that’s caught. The lobster is sold to the owner of the wharf that a lobster fishing business uses, and most businesses consistently dock at the same wharf.

What is the growth potential for a lobster fishing business?

The growth potential for a lobster business is finite. Maine accounts for about 80 percent of the United States’ lobster fishery, and the state heavily regulates the industry. Commercial lobster fishers in Main must be licensed, and there’s a limit of one license and one boat per person. The number of traps that a licensed business owner can drop is limited to 800.