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February 27, 2019

Luke’s Lobster to operate seafood-buying station in Boothbay Harbor

Courtesy / Google Earth
Courtesy / Google Earth
Luke’s Lobster is partnering with the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation to preserve the Sea Pier in Boothbay Harbor as a seafood-buying station.

Luke's Lobster, a seafood company and restaurant group founded by Luke Holden in 2009, will partner with the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation to operate a seafood-buying station at the Sea Pier in Boothbay Harbor.

The partnership is intended to protect working waterfront and access for local fishermen, according to a company news release.

Last August, the newly formed foundation entered into an agreement to acquire the Sea Pier, previously owned by longtime fisherman Douglas Carter, who wanted to ensure he sold his property to an entity that would keep it as a commercial fishing wharf. The lease was signed last week between the parties, and Luke's has taken over operations and lobster buying at Sea Pier.

All of the catch coming into the station will go to Luke Holden's seafood company to be steamed, hand-picked and packed for serving directly to Luke's Lobster customers.

The foundation was created with a mission to protect Boothbay's working waterfront, its marine-related activities and access for fishermen, as well as an educational mandate. "We spent a long time looking for the right operator for Sea Pier," Deanne Tibbets, board president of the Boothbay Region Foundation, said in the release. "We believe Luke's has the ability to work collaboratively with the Sea Pier's fishermen and is the best partner to help us realize our vision — a vibrant working waterfront, access for fishermen and public education about Boothbay's fishing heritage."

As part of the lease agreement, an advisory committee made up of representatives from the foundation, fishermen who fish at Sea Pier and representatives from Luke's will be created to ensure the operational transition is smooth, the foundation's mission is implemented and communication among all parties is open and clear.

"We are really looking forward to this partnership and to working with the fishermen here at Sea Pier to create as much value as possible for their product at the shore," Holden said in the release. "Protecting Maine's working waterfront and access for fishermen is important for our business, and our mission of sourcing the highest quality seafood but also critically important for Maine's future."

The possible formation of a fishermen's co-op is an option the parties will explore, according to the release.

The Sea Pier will be renamed Carter's Wharf. It is one of several commercial fishing wharfs on the east side of Boothbay Harbor.

An anonymous donation made the transfer of the property possible. A deed restriction requires the property remain a commercial fishing wharf.

"The working waterfront is key to Maine on many levels – not only maintaining access for fishermen but also for tourism and economic development," Ben Martens, executive director for the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, said in the release. "People coming from out of state want to see the authentic Maine, and that's our working waterfront."

The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association is the fiscal sponsor of the foundation as it awaits its 501(c)(3) status from the federal government.

Luke's Lobster is a restaurant group that includes Luke's Seafood Co., its processing facility based in Saco. In 2018, Luke's became a certified B Corporation.

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