The trap-to-plate journey

Posted Sept. 07, 2009, at 8:02 p.m.

When fourth-generation Knox County lobsterman Ryan Post leaves Maine, he finds that his profession is a real conversation starter with people from away.

“People look at you a little differently because of the mystique of lobstering,” the 36-year-old Rockland native said recently. “They ask you a hundred questions. It is the most iconic industry. In my opinion, Maine’s not about the blueberry, the pine tree or the birds. It’s lobsters.”

Now, Post hopes to capitalize on that curiosity with his new video, “Maine Buggin’ — A Year in the Life of a Lobsterman,” which aims to show viewers the trap-to-plate journey made by the state’s favorite crustacean. He talks about bait, traps, close calls, lobster boat races and the way lobstermen practice aquaculture as they go about their work catching lobsters, or “bugs.”

It’s important work. Lobstering in Maine is a $430 million industry, Post said.

“We live in the lobster capital of the world,” he said. “People need to be educated about what goes on out there. I’m not looking to be the ‘Deadliest Catch’ [on the Discovery Channel]. But I am trying to build on the fascination and cult following of that show. ‘Maine Buggin’’ is a real reality show.”

The DVD was edited by Alex Bushe, formerly of Portland, who shows off Maine’s scenic coast to good advantage. But the DVD isn’t just pretty. It’s also entertaining, educational and timely.

For some, the last year has felt like a crossroads for the beleaguered industry — thanks to continued low lobster prices, high costs for bait and fuel, and the recent string of lobstering-related crimes.

“‘Maine Buggin’’ is really designed to change misconceptions through allowing people to get on the boat and see how it’s done,” Post said.

The boat is his 40-foot Instigator, which Post docks at Spruce Head. He and sternman Jon Hill travel seven miles out to fish off Metinic Island, where Post’s family has owned property for 350 years.

Spruce Head and Metinic aren’t too far from Matinicus Island, where a lobsterman was shot in an altercation in July, or Owls Head, where three lobster boats were sabotaged and two of them sunk in early August. Post said he hopes the bad publicity doesn’t submerge the real story of Maine lobstermen.

“The lobster industry has worldwide attention right now,” he said. “I don’t want to be perceived as a bunch of pirates running around the sea, shooting at each other. I want us to be seen as conservationists, environmentalists and stewards of the sea.”

Through “Maine Buggin’,” Post originally had aimed to educate out-of-staters and Maine schoolchildren about lobstering, but as he watched the summer’s events engulf some of his lobstering friends in controversy, he realized the video could teach a lot of people about the industry.

“We’re just getting by,” he said. “The Maine lobster industry is the only sustainable lobster fishery in the country. … It’s not the crazy Wild West that people are assuming it is. It’s hardworking, independent people who view this industry as a lifestyle and not a job.”

Post plans to speak about “Maine Buggin’” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Island Institute in Rockland. He’ll be joined by midcoast writer K. Stephens, who recently published her first novel, “The Ghost Trap,” also about lobstering.

For more information about “Maine Buggin’,” visit www.mainebuggin.com or call Post at 542-9316.

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