Maine lobstermen starring in hilarious “shrinkage” videos

When my boss Skip Werner told me last fall that he had helped make a short film, I figured it was just for some fun project, especially when he told me the video was a joke about “shrinkage”.

For most people familiar with the show “Seinfeld”, the term shrinkage conjures images of George Castanza in swim trunks, but the video starring Skip actually deals with a pretty serious subject.

Check it out:

The video was produced by the Penobscot East Resource Center, which according to its website is “a non-profit organization that works to secure a diversified fishing future for the communities of Eastern Maine and beyond.”

They did another video too, but I don’t know any of the guys in it:

Want to learn more about the purpose of these films? Keep reading, the P.E.R.C explains:

“Why should I care?

Lobsters are animals. Plain and simple. Just as you wouldn’t leave your dog in the truck on a hot summer day, providing your lobsters with adequate water and oxygen circulation and careful handling is essential for their survival. Think about it: Each lobster is handled at least five times before it even leaves the parking lot at your dealer. That’s five chances to break a claw, rip off a leg, or puncture a tail. Add in poor water and oxygen circulation in tanks, and we’ve got a recipe for potential disaster. If we work together to make sure that each lobster is handled carefully from trap to crate, that lobster will survive better in the market chain. And better survival rates could mean more money in your pocket.

How does this affect price?

It’s simple.  A healthy, lively lobster is a premium product and can be sold for a good price. And, if a lobster dies before it reaches the consumer, it’s not worth anything to anyone. So let’s do the math: Maine landed over 126 million pounds of lobster in 2013. For example, if 3 lobsters (about 4 pounds) die in every 90 lb crate due to poor handling, at an average price of $2.89 per pound, over $16 million is lost in the market chain. This is calledshrinkage. And shrinkage is a price signal that trickles all the way back down the market chain to affect boat prices.

The solution is simple

Better lobster handling reduces injury rate, drives more product to live and high-priced markets, results in less shrinkage, and has a positive influence on prices paid to fishermen. But in order for that to happen, it will take action by fishermen and it all starts onboard. But it doesn’t stop with fishermen. Dock workers, graders, packers, dealers, truckers, processors, restaurant and store owners, everyone who comes in contact with the product should understand the negative effects of poor handling. This is a new era. A lobster that is well handled from the trap to the dock is the first step. Watch more videos about lobster handling, upload your own video and show us what you’re doing onboard to improve quality.”

 Just for fun, here’s a picture of Skip at Becky’s Diner in Portland wearing a custom made t-shirt back in 2012 during the Kennebunk prostitution scandal:


Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.