Lobster woes

The Canadian lobster boat "Benevolence" and a stack of traps at low tide. Lobster prices are also ebbing. Photo: Karen Morris, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The Canadian lobster boat “Benevolence” and a stack of traps at low tide. Lobster prices are also ebbing. Photo: Karen Morris, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

According to press reports out of Atlantic Canada, this has been a bumper season for lobster.

One reason may be a robust grey seal population, as discussed in this Chronicle Herald business write-up out of Nova Scotia:

And the glut of lobster may be due to the fact the lobsters’ predators — cod, pollock and cusk — have been nearly devastated by hungry grey seals.

Groundfish eat lobster larvae and were big factors in keeping the lobster population in check, said Marc Surette, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.

With fewer lobster larvae loving fish, more lobster survived infancy, resulting in catches this year that saw some boats steaming into port with lobster piled on their decks because the crew had run out of crates.

This is one of those good news/bad news cycles. While one might think a bumper lobster harvest is good (healthy stocks) it’s been bad for lobster fishermen & women.

In a separate Herald news report, the price for lobster has fallen so low that a mass protest was held on Thursday, the largest such protest  in recent memory.

In total, about 1,000 Nova Scotia boats from along the Northumberland Strait, Gulf of St. Lawrence coast and Eastern Shore refused to leave the wharf in order to protest prices that have dropped to $3.75 per pound for canners (small lobster) and $4.25 per pound for market lobsters.

In Prince Edward Island, where prices have dropped further to nearly $3 a pound, the spring lobster fleet, composed of about 1,000 boats, also stayed tied up to the wharf.

About 250 fishermen from along the Northumberland Strait gathered at the wharf in Caribou, Pictou County, for an open-air meeting.

Some boat operators say they’ll be holding out for $5 a pound and will try sell directly to consumers to net the higher price. But those options may be limited. CTV news has more on the same story, including a video report and interview with PEI Fisherman’s Associatin president Mike McGeoghegan.

I’m not fond of lobster and have no idea if the better harvest has shown up in the form of lower prices for consumers outside of Atlantic Canada. Have you seen price changes?

Meanwhile, from what I read, Maine produces 80% of lobsters consumed in the US market, so how is the Maine lobster situation looking this year?

According to this CBC report, there are concerns that warm ocean temperatures will produce an early harvest which could also glut the market. The article (written from the Canadian perspective) goes on to say:

Fishermen don’t want to see a recurrence of last year, when the strong early catch caused prices to plummet and tensions to boil over when Canadian lobstermen, angered by the low prices, blocked truckloads of Maine’s catch from being delivered to processing plants in Canada.

Phew! It sounds pretty challenging.

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8 Comments on “Lobster woes”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    I guess if the fish don’t catch the lobsters, the humans will.
    While I do like the taste of lobsters, I seldom eat them for two reasons. They like crabs cost too much and also like crabs are a pain to eat.
    Come to think of it, most sea food costs too much.

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  2. Ken Hall says:

    The inanity of blaming seals for the disappearance of the fish in the North Atlantic, vice the 100′s perhaps 1000′s of factory fishing ships dragging 10′s of miles of nets each back when there were fish to catch, reminds me of the lunatic commercial Abalone fishermen, back when I lived in California in the 70′s, blaming the Sea Otters with the decimation of the Abalone populations. At the height of the commercial Abalone fishing operations as much as 2000 tons of Abalone meat was harvested per year. I believe that no commercial wild harvesting of Abalone has been allowed in California since the mid 90′s and no, so called, “sport” taking is allowed south of San Francisco.

    As the numbers of humans continues to explode exponentially the illogic of our wanton consumption to extinction of all other forms of fauna on Spaceship Earth inexplicably appears to escape the vast multitudes of humans until it is beyond recovery, then the blame is laid upon some one of the lowlier fauna life forms so as to absolve the actual perpetrators.

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  3. Lily says:

    The New England lobster fishery is healthy due in large part to the self regulation imposed decades ago. Limits on catches, licenses and size has assured the long term viability of the fishery. Good on them. Rest of the planet, take note.

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  4. Paul says:

    Mmmmmmmmm! Lobster!

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  5. Marlo Stanfield says:

    It’s been a while since I had lobster so I’m not sure if the price has changed. I will check. Thank you for giving me a good reason to buy lobster.

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  6. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    The retail prices of Lobster remain high here in the North Country. On occasion you will find deals at places such as Price Chopper for 1 – 1 1/4 lb. live lobsters for $6.99 or $7.99 a pound and the larger 2-4 pounders coming in around $10 -$18 per pound. The real savings come from actually purchasing lobsters right on the docks in places such as Maine, Cape Cod, Nova Scotia etc. and in bulk.

    Not surprising that the fisherman are the one’s that suffer from low prices and not necessarily the wholesalers and retailers.

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  7. Mitch Edelstein says:

    I bought two small (1-1.25 lbs) lobsters at Price Chopper in Glens Falls/Queensbury last Friday (5/10) for $6.99 per pound. Last saw that price last summer. In fact last summer price got down to $5.99 and even a special day of $4.99 — though they ran out very quickly on that price.

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  8. Lucy Martin says:

    Interesting range of prices. Of course, if something is offered as a loss leader, one can’t make many assumptions about base costs. But $6.99 a pound does suggest something much lower was paid out at the docks.

    Sometimes I wish we could add a chart or label on food products (like the nutritional chart) only this would be a bar graph of who got what on the dollar value of the product.

    It’s not going to happen, but it sure would be instructive!

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