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March 6, 2018

Ready Seafood to help fund key lobster study

Ready Seafood of Portland is kicking in $75,000 a year to continue a University of Maine lobster larvae settlement study.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the study, led by University of Maine research professor Rick Wahle, is designed to see if lobster larvae are settling in deeper water than they have in the past, which would suggest that the number of baby lobsters are not declining. But Maine Sea Grant funding of $150,000 for the study's first two years has run out. So at the urging of Ready Seafood's lobster biologist, Curt Brown, the company has stepped in.

"We know next to nothing about lobster settlement in waters deeper than 30 feet," Brown told the PPH. "I just find that staggering."

Annie Tselikis, director of the Maine Lobster Dealers Association, said the position of lobster biologist at a private seafood company is unique in the Maine lobster industry. Ready Seafood has previously worked with UMaine, helping a student investigate how to speed up lobster shell hardening.

The decision to fund research that doesn't directly affect their profit margin, and available to anyone who wants it, is also unusual.

"The more research, the more collaboration we can do with harvesters, science, and now industry, I think that's going to distinguish our industry," said Brendan Ready, co-owner of Ready Seafood, which sells live lobsters, and Maine Seafood Ventures, its frozen lobster distribution operation in Scarborough.

Last month, Ready Seafood received a Maine Technology Asset Fund 2.0 program grant of $2.25 million toward a $6 million project to develop a Maine Lobster Full Utilization Campus. The project's goal is to maximize the value of Maine's lobster resource by collaborating with Maine lobster scientists to develop holding methods to ensure that more of Maine's lobster harvest can be shipped and processed to meet the demands of growing markets.

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