National Fisherman


No one in the lobster world, at least so far, expects a repeat of last summer's crisis, when early molting in Maine flooded the market with an oversupply of soft-shell lobsters. The glut helped drive the boat prices paid to Maine and Canadian lobstermen to historic lows. This summer, the general consensus in the industry is that fishermen up and down the Maine coast are hauling in fewer lobsters overall. But that hasn't done much to improve prices. State and industry officials say this a natural byproduct of a rising supply of lobsters outpacing demand. But frustrated fishermen on both sides of border believe dealers are conspiring to fix prices. Jay Field reports.

In the lobster business, there's one question that no one seems to be able to answer: How does a dealer decide what to pay for lobster coming off a boat on any given day? I put the question to one of the organizers of a joint Canada - U.S. industry conference in Moncton, New Brunswick.

"I don't think anyone really understands how the price of lobster is set," says Bob Bayer, who heads the University of Maine's Lobster Institute.

Maybe one of Maine's 14 lobster processors would have some idea. "You're asking the wrong guy. We're not close enough to that situation to know," says John Hathaway, who runs Shucks Maine Lobster.

Hathaway says he calls around, dealers tell him what the price is and he settles on a deal. "You hear all kinds of stories and rumors and everything else. It is fascinating to figure out, 'How does it start?' I don't know how it starts every day. And when you find out, tell me. I'd like to know."

Read the full story at Maine Public Broadcasting Network>>

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