Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lobster industry in trouble in Maine?

Lobster catch was down in Maine last year, is anyone worried? Last year was probably the worst year since 1997, and catches declined 23% compared to 2006.

There have been warnings for years that people were catching too many lobster, but business was so good that everyone pooh-poohed the warnings. Lobster catches have declined elsewhere, and Maine was just about the last place where fishing was good and the outlook was rosy. Is all that about to change?

Piled on top of the lobster worry are new federal regulations that require lobstermen to do more to protect endangered right whales from getting caught in lobster trap gear. Unfortunately, lobstermen are resisting new rules designed to protect whales, claiming they're expensive and unnecessary.

If lobstermen hope to get the benefits of being a sustainable fishery, with better export markets to Europe and higher prices, they're going to have to face up to these problems. If lobster are headed into decline, there will be no sustainability certification. And nobody wants whale blood on their "sustainable" lobster dinner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like I may have spoken too soon in using lobster as an example of a fishery that hasn't been over-harvested precisely because of human influences. Then again, we'll see what happens in the next few years. Their predators removed, big bait subsidies - have we really been able to apply enough pressure to this stock, too? I'm skeptical, but we'll see.