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.