September 25, 2019
Washington, D.C.—Today on Maine Avenue along Washington, D.C.’s, Southwest waterfront, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King celebrated National Lobster Day by participating in a rededication ceremony of the Maine Lobsterman Memorial.
The statue was first brought to D.C. and placed near a fish market along the Southwest waterfront in 1983. Following a significant redevelopment of the area, which is now known as the District Wharf, the Memorial was installed in a very prominent position on a public pier.
“Once hard to find and surrounded by overgrown shrubbery, the Maine Lobsterman now kneels proudly with his catch on the pier adjacent to the bustling fish market, greeting visitors as they enter the Wharf and reminding them of importance of the Maine lobster industry to our state and the country as a whole,” said Senator Collins. “As the industry faces a number of challenges from changing ocean conditions to retaliatory tariffs, this statue reminds us of who the industry is built upon and who the delegation stands in support of – hardworking Mainers and their families.”
“Every day, Maine lobstermen go to work in tough, challenging conditions. But whether they’re facing bad weather or misguided regulations or any other number of challenges, they don’t let anything stop them from getting the job done,” said Senator King. “These dedicated men and women are innovative small businesses, having fueled Maine’s coastal communities for generation. The prominent new location for this statue – fittingly, right off of Maine Avenue next to the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in America – is a physical manifestation of the simple fact that our nation’s capital won’t forget about of the important work done by Maine lobstermen.”
The Maine Lobsterman was sculpted by Victor A. Kahill, a Lebanese immigrant and Mainer who was commissioned by the state to create the centerpiece of the Maine exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair. The artist modeled the statue after Harpswell lobsterman H. Elroy Johnson, who frequently visited the Maine State House to participate in discussions on fisheries policy. There are two other castings: one in Portland and the other on Bailey Island.
In May 1979, then-Senators Edmund Muskie and Bill Cohen sponsored a joint resolution to authorize the erection of a replica of the original Maine Lobsterman statue on Maine Avenue in Washington, D.C. The statue’s relocation was supported through the fundraising efforts of the Camp Fire Girls of Cundy’s Harbor, who sold cookies and collected donations.
When the D.C. Council was exploring major redevelopment along the Southwest waterfront several years ago, they realized current law required congressional action in order to clarify the legal status of the property. In 2011, Senator Collins partnered with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) to author a bill allowing redevelopment that included specific language preventing the removal, destruction, or obstruction of the Maine Lobsterman Memorial.
National Lobster Day was established through a resolution introduced by Senators Collins and King that passed the Senate in August.