An early June start to this year’s lobster season appears less likely in the latest forecast by researchers, but water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine still favor a “very early” start by June 19 or so.

Scientists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland put the odds of a very early start to the season – meaning two to three weeks before the traditional early July start – at 62 percent in the latest update of the forecast, issued Thursday.

Lobster is the state’s most valuable fishery and the start of the peak season can have a major impact on its marketing. The season typically kicks into high gear between July 3 and July 10, the GMRI said, but warmer waters can lead to an earlier start.

The odds of an extremely early start, meaning between June 12 and 19, fell to 36 percent in this week’s forecast, down from 68 percent in last week’s forecast. The odds for a very early – June 19 to June 26 – start to the season– were 31 percent last week.

Odds of a normal or late start have been at zero in all five of the forecasts GMRI has issued this year.

The forecasts are based on water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, which have been running above average all winter. In a note accompanying this week’s forecast, researchers said the likelihood of cold weather for the first week of April should keep water temperatures from rising. If that happens and water temperatures actually drop, it could affect the next forecast.

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