November 29, 2012

Maine's lobster explosion an economic boon, biodiversity bust

A marine biologist warns that the loss of large fish could make the Gulf of Maine unsuitable for lobster.

By North Cairn ncairn@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this Aug. 2005 file photo, lobsters at The Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine. According to University of Maine marine biologist, Robert Steneck, the depletion of cod and the effects of global warming – along with existing economic challenges – are combining to test the ingenuity of lobstermen, even as the Gulf of Maine undergoes dramatic changes.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

The main issue now is profitability of the resource -- lobstermen say they struggled this year to turn a profit despite abundant catches because the wholesale price was too low to pay for equipment and fuel prices.

"There is a desire in the industry to do something, (but) change is a difficult thing," Keliher said.

The department expects to begin conversations with various constituencies in late December or January to see what kinds of steps might be taken to improve conditions for lobstermen and the fisheries.

Organizing at a local level and grassroots participation will be essential to accomplish the kinds of changes that are needed, Steneck said.

"We need to be fishing more economically," he said. "We need to reduce how expensive fishing is and lower those costs."

The expense of fuel, boat costs, traps and maintenance poses daunting economic odds to lobstermen, and "right now the crisis is economic," said Steneck.

"The longer term problem is that we have to find ways to diversify our ecosystem."

Whatever choices are made, Steneck said, the state has to find ways to "reinvent fishing on the coast of Maine to make it sustainable in the future."

North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

ncairn@pressherald.com

 

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