Exhibit at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath showcases changing lobster industry

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BATH — While the lobster has pretty much been the same over the years, the massive industry built around it has seen many changes.

That’s a point that the Maine Maritime Museum is showcasing in its renovated and expanded permanent exhibit, “Lobstering & the Maine Coast.”

The display at the museum’s riverfront campus, at 243 Washington St., first opened in 1985. Now, “it was time to renovate, and add more to the story,” curator Chris Hall said in an email Monday.

The exhibit includes the evolution of technology, gear and working patterns in lobster fishing, and how it effects families and communities; a focus on the Maine coast’s geography, culture and history, which spawned the evolving lobster fishery; the way fisherman play a part in research and new findings in the fields of marine biology, ecology and oceanography; “Lobster 101,” and “Lobster, a story of the way we eat,” according to mainemaritimemuseum.org.

Plus there’s the “Lobstermobile” – a donation by Jeff Hazell, owner of the Boston Lobster feast restaurants in Orlando, Florida – which greets patrons entering the building. A photo op if there ever was one, it even has its own Twitter page.

The exhibit compares today’s lobster fishery with its historic roots, and provides a greater appreciation of those who take part in bringing the crustacean from sea to plate, Hall said.

“Given the fishery has changed dramatically in all aspects in 30 years, we wanted to show this, whether in gear, boats, processing, handling, marketing, cuisine, and science,” he explained. “The only thing that has stayed the same is the lobster itself, but everything else has changed, including the whole approach by lobstermen to their trade, regulation evolution, much better understanding of the Gulf of Maine and cooperation with scientists.

“Huge changes in transportation and logistics have opened up markets for lobster in distant places like China; marketing the product has become much more sophisticated, which in turn is dependent on improvements and innovation in processing and packaging of frozen lobster,” Hall added. “The sustainable fishery concept, with trace-ability back to the source, has become a big part of the picture due to changes in how people are buying their seafood; lobstering fits into this very well, but now this is being leveraged better.”

One particularly eye-catching part of the exhibits is its display of buoys, donated by fishermen. A touch-screen kiosk allows visitors to see photos and information that relate to each buoy, including information about the lobsterman and, sometimes, personal stories about life on the sea, according to the museum.

The museum continues to seek buoy donations for the exhibit. Those interested in adding theirs to the exhibit can learn more on the museum’s website.

Log onto maritimemuseum.org, or call 443-1316 or email , for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

This “Lobstermobile” greets patrons entering the Maine Maritime Museum’s “Lobstering & the Maine Coast” exhibit.This display of fishermen-donated buoys at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath comes with a touch-screen kiosk that allows visitors to see photos and information that relate to each buoy.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.