Lobster Glut's Ripple Effect Reaches Connecticut, New Brunswick
The soft-shell lobster glut that is threatening Maine lobstermen's ability to make a living is now being felt in Connecticut and New Brunswick.
Earler this week, lobstermen in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where lobster populations have been on the declne for a decade, took to disparaging Maine lobsters, warning consumers that they are low quality. (The Connecticut and Rhode Island lobstermen are wrong. There is less meat in a softshell lobster compared to a hardshell lobster of the same weight, but the meat is top quality and many consumers prefer the taste.)
Now from New Brunswick comes reports of a protest by 200 lobstermen who demanded that two lobster processing companies in the small town of Cap-Pele, a small town on the Northumberland Strait 200 miles east of Calais, stop processing U.S. lobster. Depending on the time of year, as much as two-thirds of Maine's lobster catch is sent to Canadian processors, where the shellfish is is cooked and frozen.
Maine lobstermen are now getting as little as $2 a pound for a lobster. Many say it isn't enough to pay for gas, bait and other expenses associated with fishing.
Lobster landings have been on the decline south of Cape Cod in part due to warmer ocean temperatures, some marine biologists believe. A number of diseases have led to massive lobster die-offs in Long Island Sound.
Meanwhile, landings have been steadily rising in the Gulf of Maine. Scientists again point to the water temperature, which in the Gulf of Maine has risen to a level that benefits lobster, as well as conservation measures and the decline in predators such as cod.
Last year Maine lobstermen landed 104 million pounds of lobster, which is four times the historical average. Maine accounts for about ninety percent of all lobster landings in the United States.