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Lobster Fisherwomen of Maine | Interview

July 13, 2019

Lobster Fisherwomen of Maine | Interview

Interview with Krista Tripp

Tell us a little about yourself! How did you get into lobster fishing?

I grew up lobstering here in Maine; it’s been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. My grandfather, father, uncle, brother, aunt, and even my sisters have grown up lobstering.The girls in the family have generally always worked in the stern of the boat. I am the first woman captain in my family. I guess I grew up knowing that I would always fish. Once you’ve gained that love for working on the water I find it hard for anyone to give it up for anything else. The ocean will always be home to me. Besides my love for working on the ocean, lobstering is truly a passion for me. It’s thrilling to catch Lobster and to run a boat; even though the elements can be harsh at times. It’s a fun kind of dangerous!
 
What port in Maine do you fish out of?

My homeport is located in Spruce Head, Maine where I captain my 36 foot BHM named the F/V SHEARWATER. I currently fish 600 traps/pots off of the coast and plan on fishing 700 next year if all goes as planned!  
 
What is it like being a woman in a largely male dominated profession?  Any obstacles? 
It can be both extremely hard being a woman in a largely dominated male fishery, but also very rewarding! I grew up on an island here in Maine and found a passion for fishing because at the time, that’s all I had. As a female lobster captain, you don’t necessarily fit in with male lobster fishermen because you aren’t one!  Like all fishermen and women, I continue to make a living the best way I know how by working extremely hard!
 
Are there many female lobster fisherwomen now? Over the years have there been an increase? 
 
There are definitely more female lobsterwomen and sternwomen now more than ever. It’s actually becoming a growing career choice for women here in Maine! Almost like the next big fad! Whether they are choosing it because it’s become popular, harder to make a living, they genuinely enjoy the physical labor or they love working on the water - it’s really nice to see! I’m not alone out there!!! (Laughing.....)
 
Tell us a little about your typical day on the water!  
 
I typically wake up at 4-4:30am and I’m on the water by 5-5:30am. I bait and fuel up the boat either the day before or that morning I’m going out to haul gear. The amount of traps I haul in a day usually depends on the lobsters and the weather but an aerate day is about 300 traps. I’ve always hauled singles (one trap per line), pairs (two traps per line), or triples (three traps per line) but things might change in the near future as to how many traps you can have on one line. (This is due to the regulations being put in place because of right whales and this will affect every lobsterman on our coast. Lobstering may become a lot more dangerous, as they want us to fish more traps per line to reduce the amount of lines in the water. I’m an onshore fisherman and whales don’t come into our area but we are still being held responsible.)

My sternman is always responsible for baiting the bags and tying the baitbags into the traps. After the traps are cleaned out and baited we set them back. Sometimes we will bring a string on, which consists or either 5 or 10 buoys and 10 traps, and set it somewhere else. It depends on whether we are catching lobsters in a particular spot or not. After a long days haul we will clean up the boat, while steaming in, and then sell my catch to the wharf. Sometimes I bait and fuel the boat up again, if I know I’m going to haul the next day. I then put the boat on the mooring and I row into the float. I haul my skiff up onto the float and call it a day. I’m usually him between 2-4pm, it all depends on what the day brings! 

 
So many people love Maine lobster...but often they know very little about the journey and hard work it takes to get into a beautiful lobster roll or amazing summer meal!  What ‘one thing’ would you want a lobster lover to know about that journey to their plate? 
 
The one thing I would like lobster lovers to know is how much hard work and dedication lobstermen and lobsterwoman put in to getting that lobster to their plate. Each and every lobster is carefully handled, measured, and handed by crew members who brave sometimes extreme weather conditions and storms to catch these lobsters. Some fishermen travel hours offshore to bring these lobsters to your table! The lives of some lobstermen and women have also sometimes gone through very rough economic hardships and very drastic changes and have survived, just to be able to continue to go lobstering and carry on with their lifestyles. Please appreciate everything we’ve done to carry on in our traditions so you can have lobster. We’re very grateful for all of you who support us!! Enjoy! 
 
What’s next for you in your profession? Any aspirations? 

I would love to be an offshore lobsterwoman or to at least be able to fish Criehaven, which is an island my grandfather used to fish. I’m unsure what’s going to happen to the lobster industry in the next couple years or in the future but I’m skeptical about whether it’s going to be worth furthering my profession or to just stay an inside lobsterwoman. Time will tell and it’ll depend on many things. If they try to shut us down because the whales are on the decline and they’re worried about their survival, then I’m afraid I might not be able to afford my aspirations. I’ve already started to diversify into aquaculture as a safety net. I bought an oyster farm and I’m in the process of expanding it. My farm is still small so my oysters are hard to get but if you journey to Midcoast Maine and want to try them then look for Aphrodite Oysters.  Happy shucking.....whether it’s Maine lobsters or oysters!!!!




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