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Lobster from the Maine coast. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)

Lobster prices take a dive in New England

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Monday, July 09, 2012, 23:00 (GMT + 9)

Lobster fishers along the Maine and Massachusetts coast are staying home because hauling traps is not worth the paltry prices lobsters are fetching.

A surplus of lobsters and an unusually early shedding season for lobsters has led to prices for small, soft-shell lobsters as low as USD 3.79 a lb in the area, which means fishers are getting as little as USD 2.60 a lb for their catch from dealers.

The soft-shell lobsters emerged about a month earlier than normal. While usually most of those lobsters go to Canadian processors, the latter have been unable to take the Maine catch because Canadian lobster fishers have been bringing in hefty landings themselves, resulting in a backlog.

To make matters worse, soft-shell lobsters cannot be shipped because they are too fragile, so Maine lobsters have a limited geographic market, and this has all resulted in the glut and low prices, Bangor Daily News reports.

Many lobster fishers have either stayed home or gone out but voluntarily slowed down their operations, fishers say, because revenues are not covering expenses.

Fishers hope processing plants will come online in this week or so and push prices up USD 0.50 or USD 0.75 a lb as demand grows to meet supply.

Peter McAleney of New Meadows Lobster, president of the Maine Import Export Lobster Dealers Association, said the dealers were surprised by the market conditions too.

"We never had this happen before; it’s something new," said McAleney. "It was an industry-wide problem. Mother Nature was not playing ball."

He said it is hard to say what will happen next because some abnormally high and low tides currently affecting Maine’s coast are making lobstering somewhat unpredictable. Once that is over, he said, hopefully the processors will be up and running and Maine’s tourist season will help drive up demand for local lobster.

By Natalia Real


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