Over the past 40 years, some lobstermen in South Thomaston, Maine, say that they could "set their watches" by the start of the lobster shedding event each season. In 2012, though, extreme warm ocean temperatures—an ocean heat wave—combined with early and repeated lobster shedding. The obvious changes in lobsters during this event galvanized many lobstermen to take the impacts of climate change seriously.

More than 127 million pounds of lobsters were caught in 2012—an increase of approximately 18 million pounds over 2011, but prices for the larger-than-expected catch were the second-lowest on record—second only to the Great Depression year of 1939. The price drop caused hardship and anguish in the lobstering community and beyond.

The price collapse occurred, in part, because frequent molting increased the portion of lobsters with soft- or new-shells compared to hard-shells on the market, and the increased supply was out of balance with processing availability and market demand. Maine lobsterman Dave Cousens states flatly, "We can't have another year like 2012 and not be prepared for it."

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