Tom Martin was 10 years old when he caught his first lobster. Snorkeling in the cold waters of Cape Elizabeth, he’d spent nearly an hour chasing it around along the sea floor. Weaving in and out of sea grass and following it as it darted under rocks, Tom’s determination finally paid off when he scooped the small lobster out of the water and set off back to his house with his prize. When he eagerly showed his mom the fruit of his labor, she smiled affectionately but told him he had to put the lobster back. It was, after all, not caught with a trap and too small.
“I was deflated,” said Tom Martin, reliving that day in the cold waters of the cove. “I’d spent the better part of the morning chasing around that little guy, and I had to throw it back. While I may have been upset, I learned an important lesson that day. I really started to understand how seriously the people of Maine take sustainability.”
Tom’s firsthand lesson in returning an undersized lobster to the sea is part of the Maine Lobster fishery’s long legacy of protecting lobsters and the marine environment. Throwing back undersized and oversized lobsters, protecting egg-bearing females and setting maximum trap limits are some of the measures the fishery has put in place to protect Maine’s most cherished resource.
Today, Tom shares that lesson with thousands of tourists who visit Maine through his lobster boat tour company, Lucky Catch Cruises, in Portland.
“People of all backgrounds flood into Portland and are curious to learn more about what a lobsterman is and what exactly we do,” said Tom. “For over 20 years, we’ve been touring people around Casco Bay and showing them a snapshot of our life – hauling in traps and talking about what lobstermen do to fish safely and sustainably.”
Tom started the tour company in 1996 as a way to diversify his income while working as a commercial fisherman. Today, he tours full time during the summer and fall and has built a must-see experience for tourists.
During the 90-minute tours, the Lucky Catch Cruises crew allows guests to bait traps, measure lobsters and get an up-close view of the fishery. Tom and his team also answer guest questions and clear up misconceptions about the industry.
“I’ve loved lobstering since that day on the cove,” said Tom. “To be able to share my favorite thing with thousands of people each year is an enormous gift.”
Tom lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, with his wife Lucy, their children and their dog, Millie. When he’s not giving tours on the Casco Bay, he enjoys coaching his kids in their sports and playing pond hockey in the winter.
What is your favorite way to eat Maine Lobster?
“My favorite way has to be steamed Maine New Shell Lobster. Nothing beats it!”
What is the best part of living in Maine?
“They say the people make the place, and that’s definitely true with Maine.”
What makes you proud to go to work every day?
“I’m proud to go to work every day because of the people I get to work and build Lucky Catch Cruises with.”
What is special to you about Maine Lobster or the Maine Lobster fishery?
“I am so proud of the commitment to sustainability that our fishermen practice every day. It not only helps maintain a healthy fishery for the next generation but also maintains a healthy ocean.”
Meet The People Behind the Fishery
A diverse group of people passionate about Maine and the lobster industry.