Board of Directors
MLA directors serve a three year term and are responsible for soliciting feedback from members. Their interactions with lobstermen on the docks in their communities help 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 MLA Board
“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 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 president of his Beals-Jonesport Co-Op.
Josh was elected in 2021 in the midst of massive policy changes to the fishery. A younger member he feels strongly that lobstermen of all ages have to stay involved to preserve the fishery.
“After being on the Zone G council for many years, and having the opportunity to see what Maine Lobsterman’s Association was trying to accomplish and the gains they have made, I felt it was important to lend my voice to the direction of the industry. It is important for the industry to have members work together towards the common goal of sustainability of our fishery while facing many challenges.“
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.”
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, Vice President
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. ” Dustin’s passion for Maine’ lobster industry has put him at the forefront of many issues and has proved him a leader on the board.
Jim Dow, Treasurer
Jim, a board member since 2000 said he joined 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.”
Jamien started hauling by hand out of a skiff at 9 years old and has been lobstering ever since. “At first I wasn’t sure [about being on the board] but attending the meetings regularly and staying informed about current and future issues we face as lobsterman has opened my eyes as a young fisherman. Our voices do matter” he said. “Lobsterman take pride in their lifestyle and profession, and the conservation of the resource is important for the future lobsterman to come. Becoming a member of the MLA board of directors is an honor and privilege.”
Bobby 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 has served since 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 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 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.”
“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.”
Troy fishes out of Boothbay and has been a strong advocate for the working waterfront issues facing Boothbay’s harbor. He was elected in 2021.
“Being involved and staying informed on the issues facing our industry has been important to me since I started lobstering. From whales to wind power knowing what is coming and sharing that with my peers is critical to helping plan for the future.”
Kristan Porter, 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.
“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.
“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, Secretary
“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.
Thom joined this MLA in spring 2020 and has been thrown in to discussions on whales almost weekly. As a lobsterman and a small business owner (he and his wife Katie own Island Lobster Company on Peaks Island) Thom sees both sides of the lobster industry. “Protecting the resource is paramount to our coastal communities” he says.
John Williams, 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.