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Lobster wars: Maine fisherman fight falling prices

lobster071712_optBY GINA G. SCALA
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

About the only thing being netted during the Maine lobster season is the fury of fishermen, who have docked their boats to combat the falling price of the seafood king.

Just before sunrise July 9, a fleet of 30 fishermen in Winter Harbor, Maine decided it was just too expensive to go out when the price of lobster was falling, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"I've never seen them tie up [their boats] as a group like this before," Randy Johnson, manager of the Winter Harbor Lobster Co-op, told the Wall Street Journal. The 30 vessels in his co-operative have remained in port for a week straight, according to the article.

In port, prices have plunged as low as $1.25 a pound in some areas; 70 percent below normal, the Wall Street Journal reported. This week in Maine, the price has fallen to about $2 a pound; about half of what fishermen need to break even. In Massachusetts, lobster is going for less than $3 a pound, down by more than one-third over last summer.

Ask just about anyone why the icy dip in price and the answer is likely to be the same throughout New England: an unseasonably mild winter created a supply surplus throughout the Atlantic lobster fishery.

"For some people it will be disaster, they are going to go bankrupt," said Bob Bayer, director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.

Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said rumors the fishermen are looking to shutdown lobster season, strong arming others by threatening to cut off their gear, “will be met with targeted and swift enforcement.”

Lobster is a $300 million a year industry in Maine alone. And for at least some, the pricey seafood is still bringing in the money.

“We’ve been selling out every day,” Brian Sansoucie, a supermarket manager on the North Shore said. “Customers are thrilled, and we just can’t keep enough of them.”

 

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