The Lobster Gangs of Maine
Winner of the American Association for State and Local History Award of Merit (1988)
James Acheson’s detailed account of lobstering in Maine quickly dispels notions that the lobstermen is the eastern version of the cowboy, struggling alone for survival against the elements. In reality, he writes, “the lobster fisherman is caught up in a thick and complex web of social relationships. Survival in the industry depends as much on the ability to manipulate social relationships as on technical skills.” Acheson replaces our romantic image of the lobsterman with descriptions of the highly territorial and hierarchical “harbor gangs,” daily and annual cycles of lobstering, intricacies of marketing the catch, and the challenge of managing a communal resource.
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Acheson American Lobster bait beneﬁts biologists bottom bottom trawls boundaries breeding stock buoys coastal conﬂict cooperatives deal dealers and wholesalers difﬁcult economic equipment ermen established families factors inﬂuencing ﬁgure ﬁnd ﬁrms ﬁrst ﬁsh ﬁshed Fisheries Fishermen Fishing ﬁshing area ﬁshing boats ﬁshing grounds ﬁshing rights ﬁve gillnets go ﬁshing groundﬁsh Gulf of Maine harbor gang highline income increase kinship large number live lobster boats lobster ﬁshermen lobster ﬁshery lobster ﬁshing lobster industry lobster traps lobster-ﬁshing lobstermen lobsters caught locations Maine coast Maine lobster metal traps midcoastal miles Monhegan move Muscongus Bay newcomers nucleated areas number of lobsters number of traps ofﬁce operate Penobscot Bay percent perimeter-defended areas person place traps Port Clyde pounds of lobster pulled relatively scalloping season sell signiﬁcant social ster success summer Swans Island territory tion town trawls University of Maine usually warp weather