Eastern Canada, Maine benefiting from spiking lobster prices
While the spring lobstering season started out slow in Eastern Canada, it has picked up in the past two weeks, while prices have soared.
Prices are also strong in Maine, where the catch is slow – which is typical for this time of year – and frozen inventories are running low.
In Nova Scotia, lobstermen are seeing record ex-vessel prices of CAD 8.00 (USD 5.95, EUR 5.32) per pound on average, compared to CAD 5.25 (USD 3.90, EUR 3.49) at the height of the season last fall.
“In the last couple of weeks, the temperature has come up, so that has taken some of the pain out of the start of the season,” Bernie Barry, president of the Coldwater Lobster Association in Milton Highlands, Nova Scotia, told SeafoodSource.
“I’m almost certain that CAD 8 is a record high, and we hope that price will be reflected in this fall’s opening price,” Barry said. Barry expects prices to remain strong, since the United States, China and other Asian countries continue to demand more lobster.
Extremely cold temperatures at the start of the season delayed boats from fishing.
“It was a waiting game between us and Mother Nature. The water temperatures came up to where it allowed us to fish,” Barry said.
The spring lobster fishing season in Nova Scotia ends on 31 May.
In Maine, lobster landings have been slow, also due to a cold winter, leading to strong spring prices.
“It is starting out slow and late [in Maine], but it’s not alarming. It’s still so early in the season, so that can change,” Tom Keegan, who handles sales for Cozy Harbor Seafood in Portland, Maine, told SeafoodSource.
“The spring is always a really volatile time for prices,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association in Portland, Maine. “We had reached much higher prices a month ago and then, when the Canadian season opened, we saw the prices slip, and then they recovered again.”
McCarron is optimistic that Maine lobster will fetch high prices this summer, like they did last season.
“All indications we are getting is that demand is very, very high. Domestically, there is an expansion of food trucks, foodservice, and all the lobster roll businesses. And some of the markets in Asia seem to be doing well; we are seeing good numbers on export.”
Between the lower Canadian and U.S. volumes, along with low frozen lobster inventories, Maine lobster prices will likely remain strong.
“I don't see downward pressure now. Demand is very strong and inventories are low right now,” Keegan said. “The prices will stay steady or go higher as the season goes.”