Will Proposed 5-Year Lobster-Harvesting Ban Cause Prices To Rise?

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…

Lobster tales: 5-year ban coming to East Coast? [CNN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. smo0 says:

    Maybe no oil gushers but didn’t some of the models predict oil traveling upward in that direction once it hits the gulfstream?

    The gulfstream is like catched that perfect wind on a sail that sends you flying at top speed in a particular direction…. for those who have questions….

    • Hoss says:

      No, the gulfstream is diverted at Cape Cod. That is why lobstering is particularly good in Maine — lobsters like cold water.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      I don’t think the oil would hit the New England area where most lobster fishing occurs. The Gulf Stream currents are well off of Cape Cod and head further northeast past Newfoundland. If the oil was picked up by the Gulf Stream then it would move up the coast to roughly the mid-Atlantic states and then more or less in a straight line across the Atlantic towards England.

      • smo0 says:

        …. this….

        “…but in many areas of the **Mid-Atlantic** the populations of the tasty crustaceans have sunk to alarmingly low levels”

        That’s what I was referring to in general… but Maine is safe YAY!

  2. diasdiem says:

    Possible solution: replace the lobster market with crawfish, marketing them as “popcorn lobsters”

    • OwenP says:

      This is awesome, you are awesome. I would totally buy popcorn lobster on every visit to a restaurant.

    • craptastico says:

      Red Lobster has been advertising “Langostino Lobsters” over the last year or so, which in reality is more like a hermit crab

    • phrekyos says:

      Hey, why not? They already sell Langostinos as “lobster”.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Again with the misleading titles.

    Should have read: ‘Will Proposed 5-Year Lobster-Harvesting Ban on less than 10% of Lobster Fishing Cause Prices To Rise?’

    • ieatcatastrophe says:

      no. it is not a misleading title. there is a five-year ban on lobster harvesting being proposed. there is a concern this will increase prices. that’s the headline. the rest of the pertinent information is contained in the article. that’s how articles, whether on a blog, or in a newspaper, or in a magazine, work. catchy headline, information-filled article.

      or would you prefer that they cram all the information in the article into the title so that you don’t actually have to RTFA?

      i swear. every day people shout “MISLEADING HEADLINE!” or “SENSATIONALIST HEADLINE!” at consumerist for not putting the whole article in the headline.

      get a grip.


  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Lobster is one of the most wonderful foods in the world. If a 5-year moratorium on non-Maine lobsters is what it takes to get the population back up to speed, and it’s not to raise prices, that’s great. That said, whenever possible, I try to know where the lobster I eat orginated.

  5. Hoss says:

    Unlike issues in the past, the current issue is not overfishing. The issue is that the gulfstream has been warmer over the last few decades to the point that lobster moves into deeper water since the thrive in cold water. Predators and deceases reduce the population in deeper water. But deeper water also means increased costs to fisherman. I don’t think we need a ban since the issue will resolve itself by attrition of those fishing (in the Massachusetts to NY region)

  6. jtheletter says:

    “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.”

    Really? So being handed a monopoly position to sell a product wouldn’t be a boost to your company?
    I don’t buy this guy’s statement. To think that having essentially the entirety of your competition legally enjoined from selling the product wouldn’t affect your business is at best willful ignorance.

    • jtheletter says:

      Let me clarify since we’re all pedantic here: I understand by “competition” I’m only referencing 10% of the market, but that WILL have an effect greater than zero on the Maine fisheries’ business. Simply supply curve economics dictate that you cannot alter the supply by 10% and allow price to remain constant without a similar move in demand.
      I’m guessing the result will not be a change in demand, ergo price must increase.

  7. sonneillon says:

    The answer is kind of. It will make the cheaper lobsters more expensive but will make the more expensive types of lobsters more attractive. In the end the consumer will see about 2 dollars a pound more on 1 and a quarter pound whole lobsters, and about 3 dollars a pound more for tails.

    • smo0 says:

      Is Red Lobster the cause of this? that shitty chain ….

      • sonneillon says:

        no. Red lobster has their own fleet, but they don’t have the economical oomph to cause this. Walmart on the other hand once ordered almost all of the 2-3 ounce and 3-4 ounce lobster tails in the country. Easily 90 percent of them. It caused the price of lobster tails to double for 2 months.

  8. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    Based on the article, very little effect should be felt, as 90% of all lobster comes from the Maine area and that is not effected by the proposed ban. In fact they are having a banner harvest this year. If there are any price increases due to this they should be minimal.

    HOWEVER, that certainly won’t prevent a bunch of greedy folks from using this as an excuse to gouge consumers based on a false perception of shortage.

    Frankly I can’t eat any “Sea Bugs” because of an unfortunate incident when eating crab legs as a child and having my brother tell me they are just enormous underwater spiders.

  9. sarahhope82 says:

    I want that outfit for my cat.

    • drjeff says:

      That’s our kitty cat Noodles modeling that outfit. We bought the costume at Target on clearance for 2 bucks, then sold it at a garage sale for ten. Now that it’s famous we’re regretting not hanging onto it for auction. :)

  10. BigDave says:

    Must. Have. Lobster-Cat!

    • Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

      I wonder if it feels pain when you put it into the boiling water?

      • drjeff says:

        That’s our cat, Noodles. He’s pretty stupid, but I’m guessing he’d still struggle a bit. :)

  11. Darwin says:

    A five year fishing ban will have a smaller impact than a permanent one if these lobsters are over-harvested to extinction. Careful management of resources means that sometimes you may have to cut back and do without for a little while. God forbid it inconveniences a human consumer somewhere…

    • ARP says:

      Let me guess, you’re new to Amurika. Convenience is more important than all of our constitutional rights, except the right to openly carry an TAR-21 into a restaurant in the suburbs- that’s the most right important of all.


    • Big Mama Pain says:

      Tragedy of the Commons…

  12. ConsumerDollars says:

    Doubt it, I’m in Coastal NH and prices at the dock are little less than $3 but at any store it’s still $10 a pound. Lobstermen are up in arms about it too! http://fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100721/GJNEWS_01/707219858/-1/FOSNEWS04&template=SouthernMaineRegion

  13. majortom1981 says:

    The problem is why is it that fishermen from main can fish the waters and not fishermen fro mlong island. they usually fish the same areas. I dont think thats fair.

  14. ElizabethD says:

    Best photograph ever.

    • drjeff says:

      My girlfriend took that picture… that’s our lovable-yet-mildly-retarded Noodles modeling the garment.

  15. Wolfbird says:

    Die, lobster industry. My love for those overgrown ocean cockroaches has nothing to do with melted butter.

    Yes, I am aware that I am batshit insane.

  16. aaron8301 says:

    I live on the Puget Sound in Washington State. I’ll get my crustaceans out of my own water, as I always have.

    (Does this count as the obligatory “I make my own at home” post?)

  17. nygenxer says:

    Lobster isn’t one of the many, many species that needs a five year moratorium. It’s my understanding that they are plentiful, and since they are related to cockroaches (cousins) they breed very fast, as opposed to bluefin tuna which doesn’t reach full maturity for years.

    They’ve done an excellent job in Maine harvesting lobsters sustainably. IMO this is about driving up the price.

  18. dg says:

    Who cares? Eat something else. Leave the sea creatures alone. Fishing something to extinction or to the brink thereof is completely illogical.