LePage calls for lower energy costs, more lobster-processing plants


This the weekly message from Governor Paul LePage. To listen to the audio, visit www.Maine.Gov/Governor/LePage.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Maine Lobster is known to be the best of the best throughout our country and the world.

But what’s happening right now with our lobster industry is having a major impact on Maine fishermen, and it’s not doing them or our economy any good.

The price of the crustacean has plummeted because of a highly unusual season that has fishermen catching record numbers of lobster. The highest average price in 2005 was $4.63 per pound and this year we’ve hit rock bottom prices as low as $1.30-1.50.

This brings us to why Canadians are protesting. It’s all about money. See, Maine delivers 70 percent of our catch across the border and we are dependent on Canadian processors to take our product. Processors are paying only a fraction of the true cost due to the abundance of lobster and lack of processing capacity here in Maine.

There are 40 lobster-processing plants in Canada. Maine has only three, which cannot process the volume being harvested by Maine fishermen.

So, why don’t we have more processors? It’s a question my administration has explored, and we’ve known the answer for quite some time: the high costs of doing business in Maine.

Canadian government has a strong relationship with the fishing industry. Their plants are subsidized and their energy prices are much lower than here in Maine.

Getting our lobsters delivered and processed in Canada helps in the short term, but Maine needs a permanent solution. We need more processing capacity. After all, the Maine lobster is world renown. We must be in a position to add value to our product instead of Canada gaining all the added value.

My administration has urged the Legislature to help us make Maine more business friendly. We have been working hard in Maine to create an atmosphere and culture that encourages economic growth, but still we are losing opportunities.

Maine’s energy prices are 12th highest in the nation. Recently, New England governors met in Vermont to discuss the need to lower electricity prices for our region.

Vermont has passed a law that declares that large-scale hydro power is a “renewable” resource. Other states are likely to follow suit. Independent Governor Chafee, of Rhode Island, said he intends to remove the 100-megawatt cap on hydro in his state. Here in Maine, I tried to remove the 100-megawatt cap on hydro, but it was blocked by legislators.

Connecticut democratic Governor Malloy says that high electricity costs in New England are hurting economic development. He’s right. The message can’t be any clearer: we must find ways to reduce energy prices.

My administration wants to create a business environment that is both conducive to economic growth and development and consistent with our strong Maine values and traditions. We need a well-educated workforce, infrastructure that can support commerce and recreation, a further reduction in bureaucratic red tape, and incentives that are balanced in a way that will attract business and benefit Mainers.

We need jobs, but we can’t create them without smart policies that encourage investment. As I have said many times, our abundant natural resources here in Maine are the backbone of our Maine heritage and the foundation upon which we must grow our economy.

Lobster processing plants are one example of the kind of business that can add value to our product and provide more jobs.

Mainers are hard working and have Yankee ingenuity that’s second to none. You deserve to have a government that’s working for you. Demand more from your elected officials and urge them to get the job done.

Thank you for listening. Enjoy your week and go buy some lobster!

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently the executive producer of the Kirk Minihane Show. Follow him on Twitter @BigSteve207.