Too Much Lobster?

For the past several years, Maine has been experiencing a lobster boom. This can most likely be attributed to rising temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, since lobsters grow faster in warmer waters. Overfishing and looser regulations on fish like cod and halibut that prey on lobsters could also account for the seemingly unceasing growth.

Although an oversupply of lobster seems like an oxymoron for lobster fans, it’s causing real issues for lobstermen, processing factories, and other parts of the supply chain. While there might be a greater number of lobsters, the quality of these lobsters is sub-par. The warmer temperatures that are causing them to grow faster also make them molt earlier, increasing the output of less desirable soft shell lobsters come harvest time. Because soft shell lobsters are sent to processing plants, rather than the live market, the processing plants are struggling to keep up with this sudden influx.

The surplus of soft shell lobsters also causes a problem for distributors. Lobsters spoil more quickly if their shells have not hardened, so soft shell lobsters cannot easily be shipped long distances. As a result, lobstermen have to sell their products in the local market if they want to turn a profit. As a result, customers in the Midwest or on the West Coast won’t see the same low prices that Maine’s lucky Fourth of July tourists will enjoy when chowing down on their favorite lobster dishes over the holiday.

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