Consumers shelling out more for lobsters because supply is low

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A boom in catch likely will bring prices down after the crustaceans molt in mid-July.

Lobster prices are swelling as the summer fishing season gets off to a slow start in New England.

The summer staple is selling in the $6 to $8 per pound range to consumers, an average increase of about $1 to $2 from last year, Maine lobstermen and dealers said. Prices are high because supply is low – the season picks up after the bulk of lobsters shed shells and reach legal harvesting size, and lobstermen said that hasn’t happened yet.

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This year’s summer lobster fishing season appears likely to feature a mid-July shed followed by a boom in catch, said the president of the Maine Lobster Dealers Association.

The 2012 and 2013 summers featured early sheds, which resulted in huge catches that flooded the market and depressed prices. State biologists said last year that the cold winter and spring may have held back lobster molting in 2014. That appears to have happened again.

The Maine Lobster Dealers Assoc. described those early sheds as “an anomaly,” and said prices will likely come down later this summer.

Everyone that they spoke with seems to expects to see new-shell lobsters after (July) 4th.

Maine is by far the biggest lobster fishing state in the country – federal data show that more than 85 percent of America’s 2013 lobster catch was from Maine. The state is also in the midst of a multi-year boom in lobster catch, with lobstermen bringing in more than 100 million pounds of lobster every year since 2010.

Lobster value at the dock nosed up last year, with fishermen getting $3.69 per pound after getting less than $3 per pound the previous two years. State regulators said the return to a midsummer shed made the lobsters more valuable for dealers, processors and restaurants.

This year, lobstermen are getting as much as $6 per pound at the dock because of the low supply. Lobstermen are getting an average of 50 or 75 cents more per pound at the dock than they were a year ago. However, a lot of inshore lobstermen haven’t even started fishing yet.


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