lobster

Maine Lobster Business Salvaged Its Summer Despite Pandemic

Sep 27, 2020
Robert F. Bukaty / AP Images

Maine’s lobster fishermen braced for a difficult summer this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but then the unexpected happened. They kept catching lobsters, and people kept buying them.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

A federal award of some $50 million to Maine lobstermen to compensate for losses created by the U.S. trade war with China is upsetting live lobster dealers and processors who were left out of the equation. Even some lobstermen are questioning the formula — and some observers see one key motivation behind the decision: presidential politics.

Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng says she's keeping a close watch on a trade investigation into the Canadian lobster industry requested by the administration of President Trump.

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending the deadline for Maine lobstermen to replace boat engines so they emit less pollution.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/markittleman/

Last year, Maine's lobster fishery brought in almost $500 million to the state, and even more when you count the economic benefits to dealers, processors and restaurants. Now, with the pandemic hindering the market for lobsters locally and around the world, this signature industry has been impacted severely. We will talk about how the industry is facing challenges, and what efforts are underway to find new ways to market lobsters and connect with consumers.

Maine Public File

Much of Maine's lobster fishery is losing, at least temporarily, an internationally-recognized rating as a "sustainably fished" resource. The suspension comes in the wake of a federal judge's ruling that the risk posed by lobster-trap ropes to endangered North Atlantic right whales violates federal law.

Stephan Savoia / AP File

A federal judge says that within two weeks he will decide when, exactly, federal regulators must issue new rules to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP File

Maine's lobstermen, dealers and regulators are warily eyeing the possibility of a market crash when the big seasonal harvest of recently-molted lobsters — called “shedders” — come in. With restaurants and other end-buyers still struggling, there is talk within the industry of reducing the size or timing of the catch to avoid a glut, but no one appears to be enthusiastic about the options.

ROBERT F. BUKATY / AP FILE

New research suggests that the U.S. lobster industry could place fewer traps in the water and still gain just as much profit. And that finding could play a role in the debate over what should be required of Maine lobstermen to reduce entanglements with endangered North Atlantic right whales.

New England Aquarium

There are new developments Friday in the legal battle over whether rope used by Maine lobstermen poses a deadly threat of entanglement to endangered North Atlantic right whales. An activist who has won past decisions to protect the whales filed a motion in Bangor federal court, seeking a preliminary injunction to halt lobster fishing in Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine - Leaders in the Maine Legislature are calling on the federal government to protect the lobster fishery in the wake of a ruling about protection of rare whales.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

There appears to be further movement in the effort to knock back Chinese tariffs on American lobster.

Fred Bever / Maine Public File

Federal fisheries regulators are saying that Maine's proposed lobster gear rules, which were designed to reduce the risk to endangered North Atlantic right whales, don't go far enough.

AP File

China is slightly lowering tariffs on U.S. lobster, but industry observers say it is not enough to reboot Maine's languishing sales to that country. At the same time, the outbreak of coronavirus in China is hurting lobster sales abroad and domestic markets as well.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Images

The state with the largest fishing industry for lobster likely experienced a drop in catch last year, but the dip in harvest was probably not as dramatic as initially feared. 

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