The World War II was more than a decade away when Virginia Oliver started trapping lobster off Maine’s rocky coast. She is 101 today and possibly the oldest lobster fisher in the world. She intends to continue fishing. 

Oliver can be seen laying baits and trapping lobsters off Rockland, Maine, with her 78-year-old son Max.

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“I’ve done it all my life, so I might as well keep doing it,” she said.

Starting when she was eight years old, Oliver has seen the lobster industry change over the course of decades. Lobsters have grown from a working class food to a delicacy. The lobsters fetched 28 cents a pound on the docks when she first started trapping them; now, it’s 15 times that. Wire traps have replaced her beloved old wooden ones, which these days are used as kitsch in seafood restaurants.

These days she catches lobsters using a boat that once belonged to her late husband. The boat, named after her, is called ‘Virginia’. While Oliver wants to keep at the fishing, she is concerned about the health of Maine’s lobster population, which she said is subject to heavy fishing pressure these days.

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Referring to a study published last year, the lobster board said that the crustaceans are showing record high abundance in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, which are a pair of key fishing areas further to the north and east. The Gulf of Maine has long been the center of the lobster fishery. The body of water touches the Maine coast and Atlantic Canada.

The southern New England lobster stock is showing record low abundance, the board said.

American fishermen caught more than 126 million pounds of lobster last year. More than 100 million of those pounds came to the docks in Maine.

While things have changed drastically, Oliver still loads pogeys — lobster-speak for menhaden, a small fish — into traps to lure the crustaceans in, like  the old days. She’s still getting up long before dawn to get on the boat and do it.

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Oliver seems to be carrying her family tradition. Her father, who started around the turn of the century, was a lobster dealer. 

A family friend, Wayne Gray, who lives nearby, said Oliver had a brief scare a couple of years ago when a crab snipped her finger and she had to get seven stitches. She never even considered hanging up her lobster traps, though.

“The doctor admonished her, said ‘Why are you out there lobstering?’” Gray said. “She said, ‘Because I want to’.”

After all these years, Oliver still gets excited about a lobster dinner of her own and typically fixes one for herself about once a week. And she has no plans to quit lobstering any time soon.

“I like doing it, I like being along the water,” she said. “And so I’m going to keep on doing it just as long as I can. ”

With inputs from the Associated Press