Is Maine Lobster Greener Than Commercially Raised Meat?

Luke’s Lobster, a Maine-based seafood company, calculates its carbon clawprint.

By Will Grunewald
From our January 2023 issue

A couple of years ago, Luke Holden and Ben Conniff, cofounders of Maine-based Luke’s Lobster, decided to size up the climate impact of their namesake product. “We wanted to understand how our fishery could help in slowing climate change,” Conniff says. Luke’s partnered with the nonprofit Island Institute and a sustainability-focused consulting firm, totting up emissions from lobsterboats, bait fishing, wharf work, processing, transportation, and restaurant ops and publishing the results last September. Their assessment: getting one pound of lobster meat out of the ocean, off Maine or Nova Scotia, and onto a plate at one of 18 Luke’s restaurants, from Portland to Chicago to Las Vegas, produced an average of 2.89 pounds of greenhouse gasses. That’s better than commercially raised poultry, pork, lamb, and beef and about on par with wild-caught fish, according to a 2018 study in the journal Science. Luke’s supply chain is more eco-friendly than most — unlike many lobster wholesalers, Luke’s doesn’t rely on air freight — but Conniff sees improvements coming at the company and across the fishery. Installing solar generators at wharfs, for instance, reduces emissions and cuts operational costs. And farther down the line, hybrid and electric motors should take a big chunk out of the biggest contributor to lobster’s footprint: lobsterboat fuel. So it seems lobsters can only get greener.