The coronavirus has all but shut down the international and commercial lobster market in Maine, but fishermen are still getting by through selling directly to consumers instead of vendors or restaurants.

Noah Ames fishes lobster year-round 50 miles out at sea from Matinicus Island with a crew of two other people. He has not been able to sell what he catches to his usual market, he said. Instead, he has been selling directly to consumers at various pickup locations up and down the Midcoast.

“My normal buyer doesn’t even have a price for me,” he said.

He is selling his lobster to individual customers for $7 to $8 per pound, which is more than restaurants and vendors would be offering right now. But he does not have the opportunity to sell in bulk, which usually provides a better payoff.

The lobsters have not slowed down, he said. He is still catching an abundance of the crustaceans, but has to keep them longer before selling them. The direct-to-consumers model pays off sometimes, but he never knows if he will run out of lobsters at a meet-up spot or if he will have leftovers.

He sold out of lobsters in less than two hours in Belfast April 19 and had to turn people away, which he said he always feels bad about.

It is still a slow time for lobstering right now, according to Maine Department of Marine Resources Communications Director Jeff Nichols. He said in a way that is a good thing. Most inland fishermen, those who fish relatively close to shore, do not start setting lobster traps until May or June, he said.

He said if the market does not start to rebound it could hurt fishermen, but he said it is still too early to predict what will happen with the industry.

Ames said the worst-case scenario if the shutdown persists into the summer is that it will force some fishermen to stay in for the season. But he said he is hopeful that fishermen will get through the setback.

Lobstering is an industry that is used to frequent ups and downs in the market, regulations, bait shortages and now virus outbreaks, he said. Lobstermen are accustomed to adapting to various industry stressors and he said the industry will prevail.

“We’re not doing really well right now, but not doing terrible,” he said. “ … We’ll get through it, but it’s been tough.”

Ames can be contacted on Facebook under Maine’s Working Waterfront – Seafood Connect.