A year ago this week, an oversupply of soft-shell lobsters – due to early molting – had already dropped the dock prices paid to Maine fishermen to less than $2 a pound. Then, as all that cheap, excess product made its way into the Canadian Maritimes for processing, fishermen in that country watched their prices begin to drop as well, before their short lobster season had even begun. Frustrated, Canadian lobstermen spent several days blocking the shipments from entering processing plants along the Acadian Coast in New Brunswick. The protests shed new light on the supply and demand challenges facing the lobster industries in Maine and Canada. Officials on both sides of the border say expanded, more effective marketing is the key to stabilizing prices. But, in the first of a series of reports this week, Jay Field looks at how that’s left Maine and Canada in the awkward position of needing to work together more closely, while also trying to outmarket each other.
This delicate dance was on display in late July at a hotel in Moncton, New Brunswick. An entourage from Maine traveled up to attend a two-day conference put on by the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation and the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute. In past years, the event focused more or less exclusively on science. But this year, the organizers invited fisheries ministers from the Maritimes and Maine to talk about the state of the industry. And they added a session on marketing.
“The biggest, two-clawed lobster resource in the world – we’ve got an amazing opportunity together to market,” said Geoff Irvine, who runs the Lobster Council of Canada. Irvine quickly revised that idea: “maybe not together, but at least be mindful of how we’re both marketing.”
Read the full story at Maine Public Broadcasting Network>>