August 15, 2009

Lobstermen face low prices, tough economy

Maine lobstermen are facing hard times as Americans cut back on consumption of the seafood delicacy and prices fall, industry players say.

Lobsters are thriving off the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts with plenty available to be caught, but U.S consumers -- who see lobster as a celebration food -- aren't in the mood for high living in a struggling economy, Gatehouse News Service reported Saturday.

Things are not going so good, said Laddie Dexter, 70, of Marshfield, Maine, told the news service. The reason is the global economy and especially the local economy is killing us, he said, citing producers who are paying only $3 per pound for an average lobster, which he said wasn't enough to make loberstering profitable.

Dan McKiernan, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, indicated the price plunge may continue as the season peaks between September and October. An anticipated bumper 2009 catch, he said, could mean that prices paid to fishermen may continue to drop.

If catches remain strong, this could continue right through fall, he told Gatehouse, noting that July's sales were off 30 percent. That may be putting the lobster business in trouble.