Maine lobstermen are choosing to keep their boats at anchor rather than hauling traps in response to dealer prices as low as $2.60 a pound.
At that price, according to a report in the Bangor Daily News, lobstermen say what they receive for their catch doesn't even cover expenses.
Adding to lobstermen's price woes is the appearance of soft-shell lobsters a month earlier than usual. As reported by the BDN, during a typical year many of those Maine lobsters are commonly shipped to Canadian processors. But this year, Canada's lobstermen have had an exceptionally strong spring season resulting in a backlog of lobsters at Canadian processors. With supplies up, demand goes down – Canada's processors aren't accepting Maine lobsters right now, the newspaper reports -- and prices fall accordingly.
The early arrival of soft-shell lobster also limits the ability of Maine lobstermen to market their catch outside of New England, since "shedders" are more fragile and can't be shipped as far as lobsters with hard shells. That limits sales to local markets, but the glut caused by the Canadian processors' backlog is keeping local retail prices low – a good deal for consumers, but one that's putting an economic squeeze on the lobstermen.