Board of Directors
MLA directors are responsible for soliciting feedback from members. They are down on the docks, interacting with lobstermen in order to keep the organization informed. Directors are elected by the membership at our Annual Meeting held every March during the Maine Fishermen’s Forum.
Meet the Board
Bob Baines, Spruce Head
“The MLA speaks on behalf of the industry, whether you’re involved in the association or not. I think it’s important to be a part of that,” Baines said. “Whether it’s whale rules, bait issues or lack of profitable marketing, MLA is in the forefront of those issues. I wanted to be a part in shaping that voice.”
Sonny Beal, Beals Island
Sonny Beal is a 3rd generation lobsterman from Beals Island. He considers himself as kind of a political lobsterman staying involved with many different aspects of the industry. “ I like to stay informed and be part of the discussions. The MLA was a perfect fit for me, because they stay on top of all the critical issues we deal with. Not to mention my father is a past president so the MLA is heritage as well.” Sonny is also Vice-President of his Beals-Jonesport Co-Op.”
Herman Coombs, Orrs Island
Coombs, who fishes both inshore and in federal water, thinks that lobstermen have a certain responsibility to find out what’s happening if they want the fishery to prosper in the future. “The usual thing is to complain after the fact,” he said. “You can’t complain if you don’t take the time to find out what’s happening.”
David Cousens, So. Thomaston – President
As president of the MLA, Cousens helped usher the organization into broader arenas at the state and regional levels. “We started working with scientists. In those days, scientists were the enemy. But we needed to listen to each other because we each had something to contribute,” he said. “I don’t know how many days I’ve missed fishing to go to meetings,” said Cousins. “But the whole point is to get the industry to a better place in terms of profitability.”
Gerry Cushman, Port Clyde Cushman said that getting to know people through the MLA has helped him in other leadership positions. He does his best to attend as many meetings as he can, noting that it is very important to stay involved and to know what changes the industry is facing. “If you’re not involved, you can’t help direct things. You can’t complain about it if you’re not involved,” Cushman said.
Dustin Delano, Monhegan
While many people dislike going to meetings, Delano finds that he enjoys the give and take among the board members. “It’s kind of interesting,” Delano reflected. “It’s a good group. I’ve never felt really welcome to anything like this in the past.”
Jim Dow, Bass Harbor
Dow said he joined the Board because he was wanted to become more involved in the political and management side of fisheries. “If we want to be able to control how the fishery is managed instead of being told how to manage it, we have to be involved,” said Dow. “We’ve got a good group involved now, but it would be great to see more people.”
Arnold Gamage, Jr., So. Bristol
Gamage has always appreciated the way that MLA board meetings bring people from different parts of the coast together. “It’s a great group of people with great representation. All of us are there because we want to be. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t put in the time.”
Robert Ingalls, Bucks Harbor
Ingalls was elected to the MLA Board of directors on June 25, 1988, and has been a dedicated director since then. “I go to all the MLA meetings,” he said. “It’s important to know what’s going on. If you don’t, you get blindsided.” He also holds a seat on the Zone A council and attends all those meetings.
Mark Jones, Boothbay
Jones was elected in 2003. “It’s a good board, everyone gets along. We might not always agree with each other, but no one leaves our meetings upset at someone.” And, he added, “it’s important to have a heads up to what is coming down the road. If you don’t hear it firsthand from the MLA, you’ll hear it secondhand and won’t know how true it is.”
Jason Joyce, Swan’s Island
Joyce sees many benefits from being involved with the MLA. “I like being able to talk to other fishermen about what’s going on in their port,” he said. “MLA lets members know about what bills to comment on. If I pick up anything on my radar, I come back and tell others what to be prepared for.”
Jack Merrill, Islesford
Merrill believes that lobstermen are their own best advocates for the fishery. “Being a ‘responsible’ lobsterman which means you have to go to a lot of meetings and work with the bureaucracy which is frustrating. But, it’s a way of life that’s died out in most of America and I think it’s worth fighting for.”
Tad Miller, Matinicus
“I think if people would come to an open MLA board meeting, it would help them understand the workings of the board. We have some really good people there, all the way to the top, to Patrice. I think people would be impressed if they got to see what we do and they would find the MLA worth supporting.”
Kristan Porter, Cutler – 1st Vice President
“We have a great board,” Porter said about the MLA. “I hope everyone knows how hard the board works for the state and for the people who make their living fishing. It’s not a western or eastern Maine fishery. We do what’s best for all full-time fishermen.” According to Porter, the MLA is important because the association has been involved in many issues that have helped to protect Maine’s lobster industry and the people who depend on it.
Willis Spear, Yarmouth
Serving on the board is an investment in time, Spear noted, but it pays off. “I don’t see any other group out there that’s thinking of the long term health of the resource and the health of the coastal communities,” he emphasized. “It’s truly grass roots.”
Craig Stewart, Long Island
“I appreciate everything MLA does. I don’t always agree with everything, but I do understand,” he added. When you ask four different lobstermen the same question, you are likely to get four different answers, Stewart said, but that is why he thinks the MLA Board works so well. “The board understands there is no right answer for everyone. We work hard to do what is best for the state,” he said.
John Tripp, Spruce Head
“I was interested in what the board did so I thought, why not be a member?” He recognizes that the lobster management system is a complex and constantly changing one and that in the future the fishery is likely to look different than today. “We’ve got things to deal with in the future,” he said. “I talk to the younger guys, I think I can bring a younger person’s point of view to the board.”
Chris Welch, Kennebunk
“I think it’s important to have a southern Maine voice on the board. There hasn’t been someone from Zone G in a while,” Welch said. He fishes in a zone that has its own peculiar regulations, specifically the tagging requirements that are part of the whale regulations implemented last year.
John Williams, Stonington – 2nd Vice President
When John talks about what moved him to join the board, his answer is simple, “If you don’t do something, you can’t complain.” He views being a member of the MLA board of directors as an opportunity to be proactive and to lead. “This is our business. You have to find out what’s going on, and the MLA is a great way to do that,” he said
Donald Young, Cushing – Secretary/Treasurer
Young has been on the Board of Directors since 2008. “Some of the guys asked if I’d be interested in joining. I said yes because I wanted to be a part of the decision-making process and I’m glad I did,” he said. “Before, I only wanted to represent what I believed in, not what others believed in. I think the older I get, the better I am at listening and more open I am to other opinions,” he said.
Jack Young, Vinalhaven
I’ve been on the board since 1988 and hope to be a dedicated member for the rest of my life,” Young said. “Not everyone will agree with the decisions we make, but if people want to stay in business in the future they should stand behind the MLA,” said Young.