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Maine to pump up lobster marketing

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

California has its raisins, Florida its oranges and Vermont its maple syrup. Now, Maine's lobster industry is trying to market its brand more broadly and increase sales of the state's best-known seafood.

The annual marketing budget for lobsters will increase more than six-fold to $2.2 million under a law taking effect in October, starting what some call a new era for the industry. The goal is to get more people at home and abroad to buy more Maine lobster and related products at restaurants and in stores, while increasing prices to help fishermen boost their incomes.

Marketing was little more than an afterthought in the lobster industry before the 1990s, when the annual catch was typically 20 million pounds or less. But the lobster harvest has ballooned to previously unimagined levels — a record 127 million pounds was harvested in Maine last year — and prices have remained low since they tanked when the global economy went sour in 2008. Fishermen last year received $2.69 a pound on average for their catch, a nearly 40 percent drop since 2007 and the lowest price since 1994.

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