THE MAINE LOBSTER is one of the most recognized and most sought-after seafood items in the world. There are several other species that closely resemble the Maine Lobster, but few rival it in terms of taste and availability. Lobsters are an industry unto themselves in New England and Maritime Canada and have for generations been a symbol of excess, luxury, and celebration.
The Maine Lobster, or American Lobster, is the only true “lobster” (except for the Eastern North Atlantic Lobster, its European cousin) – as spiny lobsters found in warmer waters lack the two claws. Though found as far south as the Carolinas, the vast majority of American lobsters are landed in Massachusetts through Maine and Maritime Canada. Unlike other areas, Maine has the strictest conservation laws when it comes to lobster harvest – including forbidding bycatch landings from trawlers, strict size restrictions (undersized lobsters must be returned to the water immediately), and egg carrying females are forbidden from harvest – all designed to manage the resource for the long term. Lobster traps have slots specially designed to allow undersize lobsters to escape, as well as biodegradable escape entrances that are designed to rot over time should the pot be lost to the fisherman.
Surprisingly to some, lobsters take a long time to mature to harvest size: it takes 6-7 years for them to weigh a pound, and 4 years longer per additional pound. Lobster shed their shells annually. When they do so, they are “new” or “soft shell” lobsters as their newly molted shells is much thinner and softer than the “old” or “hard shell”. During this molting time, they take in water as they grow, and their meat yield is lower. Debate continues as to which is “better”: “hardshells” have more meat inside but many swear that “softshell” meat is sweeter.
How to properly cook a live lobster is also a source of debate among traditionalists. Some pledge steaming – others say boil only. Regardless of how it is prepared, lobster remains King of Maine’s fishing industry, and one of the tastiest “fish” in the sea. When ordering live lobsters, take care to ensure it is alive before it goes in the pot: keep them refrigerated and moist with seaweed or damp towel, but NEVER immerse in water or cover in ice.
Catch Region: Gulf of Maine
Seasonality: Year Round
Catch Method: Trap (aka “Lobster Pot”)
- Hardshells 55%
- Softshells 30-45%
Flavor Profile: Mild & Sweet
Texture Profile: Firm