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16 Jul 2012: Warmer Ocean Waters
Lead To a Glut of Lobsters in Maine

Warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures off the coast of Maine have caused the state’s bountiful supply of lobsters to shed their shells and come onto the market six weeks earlier than normal, creating a glut that has driven prices sharply down. The state’s 5,000 lobster fishermen are receiving less than $3-per-pound at the dock for their catch, which is below the $4-per-pound break-even point. As a result, many lobsterman have stopped fishing and are waiting for the oversupply of lobster to ease before heading back out on the water. An extremely mild winter and spring in New England has increased ocean temperatures, which in turn has caused Maine’s lobsters to shed their shells far earlier than normal. The abundance of so-called soft-shelled lobsters led to the largest lobster harvest on record in June, state officials said. The warmer temperatures also caused a boom in the lobster fishery in Canada, which has exacerbated the market glut. Soft-shelled lobsters are more difficult to ship out of state than hard-shelled lobsters, meaning that Maine’s lobster processing plants are overflowing with the crustacean, causing prices to plummet.

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