Maine lobster prices, catch both down for first time since 2001

Published on
November 28, 2017

Fewer lobsters are being caught in Maine, and prices are down for the ones that are being landed. That’s good news for consumers, but it’s squeezing Maine’s fishermen, the Bangor Daily News reported.

After landing almost 131 million pounds in 2016, Maine’s lobster haul might not reach 100 million pounds this year, according to David Cousens, president of Maine Lobstermen’s Association. 

Cousens, who also works as a lobsterman and is based in South Thomaston, told the newspaper his own catch is down by about 20 percent from last year. 

“I don’t know what we’re looking at, but I know it’s going to be less. They haven’t been high all year,” Cousens said. 

Despite less supply, lobster prices are also lower than they were in 2016, down around 20 percent all along the Maine coast, Cousens said. Lobstermen are receiving around USD 4.00 (EUR 3.36) per pound this fall – up from the peak summer season, but still less than last year’s prices by around USD 0.70 (EUR 0.58). 

The big winners are lobster consumers, who are buying fresh lobster for cheaper prices. The wholesale per-pound price for a 1.25-pound, hard-shelled, live New England lobster averaged USD 7.54 (EUR 6.34) in September, down from 8.28 (EUR 6.96) in October 2016. This fall, prices at stores in Maine have been around USD 6.00 to 7.00 (EUR 5.04 to 5.88) per pound, lower than normal, the newspaper said.

While last year’s record lobster haul generated an all-time high of USD 533 million (EUR 448 million) in gross revenue for Maine’s lobstermen, this year, weaker prices and fewer lobsters to sell means Maine’s lobster harvest is on pace to hit its lowest value this decade. The Bangor Daily News said it’s the first time both the statewide catch and average price paid to fishermen dropped from the previous year since 2001. Fishermen are also struggling with higher bait and fuel prices, Cousens told the paper.

 “I don’t have a clue what’s going on,” Cousens said. “People are very upset.”

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