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August 22, 2023

Portland Lobster Co. buys lobster pound on Bailey Island in Casco Bay

aerial of buildings piers water boats Courtesy / Portland Lobster Co. Portland Lobster Co., a seafood restaurant in Portland, acquired a lobster pound on Bailey Island in Casco Bay to ensure fresh product and maintain a rare piece of working waterfront.

Maine’s working waterfront has dwindled in size due to redevelopment for residential or commercial uses that often have nothing to do with fishing, maritime activity or working on the water.

That makes the recent sale of a Casco Bay lobster-buying wharf to someone intending to maintain its traditional purpose all the more remarkable.

"With the purchase of our own lobster pound in the pristine environment surrounding Bailey Island, we can ensure that our lobsters are sourced directly from the productive and healthy waters of Casco Bay," said Ethan Morgan, who owns the Portland Lobster Co. and has bought the Bailey Island Lobster Pier for an undisclosed price.

“This acquisition allows us to establish a close partnership with local fishermen, supporting them while having a direct line to their daily catches."

4 people on boat
Courtesy / Portland Lobster Co.
The pier's buyer, Ethan Morgan, is shown with his family.

The facility is at 66 Garrison Cove Road on Bailey Island, which is part of the town of Harpswell on the northeast side of Casco Bay, about an hour's drive from Portland (and, arguably, easier to reach by boat).

The transaction was brokered by Robert Baldacci of F.O. Bailey Real Estate. Baldacci represented Morgan as well as the seller, Delta Reality LLC.

“This pier has been and continues to be a critical support for the midcoast lobster industry,” Baldacci told Mainebiz.

The facility is in decent shape, he said, although some pilings need to be repaired or replaced. 

Strategic move

Morgan said the deal was a strategic move to designed to receive, house and transport lobsters for his restaurant, Portland Lobster Co. — eliminating the need for the lobsters to sit in tanks for weeks at a time. 

The expansion offers his operation control over its lobsters, from trap to table, he said.

“By sourcing directly and locally, the company reduces its carbon footprint and collaborates closely with fishermen dedicated to responsible and sustainable fishing practices,” he said.

At the same time, the purchase represents an investment in the lobster industry, he said. 

“As Maine grapples with a rapidly shrinking working waterfront — a vital, yet vanishing asset — Portland Lobster Co.'s lobster pound on Bailey Island is a purposeful step toward preserving this critical aspect of the state’s identity,” Morgan said.

building wharf boats
Courtesy / Portland Lobster Co.
Portland Lobster Co., a winner of local awards for its lobster rolls, will take a portion of the Bailey Island landings.

Of Maine’s coastline of more than 3,500 miles, less than 20 miles are designated as working waterfront.

“"With this acquisition, we are securing a vital piece of Maine's waterfront for the future of commercial fishing in the state, preserving access to the ocean for today’s fishermen and safeguarding this access for future generations,” he said.

He continued, “By buying directly from local fishermen, Portland Lobster Co. ensures they receive fair compensation for their hard work and that the tradition of fishing in Maine remains viable for future generations.”

Portland Lobster Co. is at 180 Commercial St. in the Old Port and offers New England seafood, dining and entertainment. Its lobster roll has taken top honors in a local poll called “Best of Portland Old Port” for seven years.

Morgan served as general manager for 20 years and took over ownership in 2022.

“It was incredibly fortuitous when this came up,” he said of the Bailey Island listing.

The purchase was financed by a privately held note. An additional investment will be needed for repairs and replacement of structures like piers and floats, according to Morgan.

“I’ve been speaking with a few marine contractors but haven’t’ received quotes back yet on what it needs,” he said.

Morgan said he expects about 200,000 pounds of lobster will be landed at the wharf this year. Portland Lobster Co. can use 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of that. The rest will be sold wholesale. Morgan said he’s brought in Eastern Traders, a Nobleboro company that handles lobsters, to operate the wharf for the season.

Next steps could include expanding operations at the Commercial Street location to include processing the lobsters that come into Bailey Island.

The number of lobstermen utilizing the wharf has dwindled over the years, he said. “We’d love to bring it back up.”

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August 24, 2023

I am thrilled that PLC bought this property and it will remain a lobster wharf with support and expansion of the local lobster economy. It could have become a gentrified waterfront property given it's superb location. Lobsters coming out of Harpswell are some of the best.

August 23, 2023

That is glad PLC is doing that.
PLC has Good food, good prices and live entertainment with an oceanfront view...
Sustainable fishing is so great also...thank you Ethan Morgan, and all involved..

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