In his 2010 report "Use of Herring Bait to Farm Lobsters in the Gulf of Maine" Gulf of Maine research institute researcher Jonathan H. Grabowski, says it is "human augmentation" of wild lobsters' natural diets with herring bait that keeps the population of lobsters high and steady.
Is that really "farming"? Well, yes. Not exactly "herding" the lobsters, but establishing diffused underwater CAFO concentrated animal feedlot operations, only in the case of lobsters, DAFOs Dynamic Animal Feedlot Operations that travel with the migrating lobsters. A sort of crustacean welfare.
Of course these feedlots require the hunter/gatherer herring fleets that ply the Gulf of Maine, zone by seasonal zone, seeking out and tapping into the great schools that also feed other fishes, the marine mammals and seabirds.
Last year these boats made 60,000 metric tons of herring (about 132 million individual fishes) directly available to the bristly palates of Maine's lobsters via the lobster traps. (Herring average about a pound each, and about three pounds of bait are used per pound of lobster captured).
There are myriad other elements to this watery agribusiness from boatbuilders to regulators and tax gatherers, but the care we take in these two fisheries are key to the success of the whole enterprise as it value-adds its way into the greater economy.
(photo courtesy Lobster Adventure)