You wouldn’t notice from the relatively affordable cost of Lobster in the region these days, but in many areas of the Mid-Atlantic the populations of the tasty crustaceans have sunk to alarmingly low levels. So much so that later this week, members of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are meeting to discuss a proposed five-year ban on lobster harvesting in the waters between Virginia and Cape Cod. But the most important question is — what impact is this going to have on restaurants and lobster lovers?
The short answer is: Hopefully not too much. The ban would not include the waters off the coast of Maine, which is responsible for 90% of the lobsters sold in the country. In 2009, Maine fisherman hauled in over 75 million pounds of lobster, one of the area’s biggest catches in years. By comparison, all the other states combined only brought in about 4 million pounds of the clawed creature.
The commissioner of the Maine Dept. of Marine Resources fights off criticism that this is just a ploy to raise the price of lobster:
There have been people making allegations that we’re doing this to price markets… Just the idea that it’s going to somehow be a boost to our fishery is not based on any information that I’ve seen. So there’s no economic boom that I see from our discussion in southern New England.
CNN also spoke to the owners of the Red Hook Lobster Pound in Brooklyn — which also happens to be where I pick up the occasional lobster — and while they say they don’t foresee their prices going up because all their product comes directly from Maine, they do hope that the ban will ultimately revives the local lobster population to the point where they wouldn’t have to trek 300 miles each way to do their shopping:
I don’t know anyone who sells Southern lobsters, New York lobsters… I hope [the ban] rejuvenates the population. I’d love to sell local lobsters.
Let’s just pray for no underwater oil gushers off the coast of Kennebunkport…