Warm ocean waters worry Maine lobstermen

PORTLAND, MAINE — Ocean temperatures have been higher than normal in the Gulf of Maine, creating worries among lobstermen that there could be a repeat of last spring’s early harvest that resulted in a market glut, a crash in the prices fishermen get and a blockade of Maine-caught lobsters in Canada.

Temperature readings at selected ocean buoys off the Maine coast have been lower than last winter, but they’ve still been above normal the past few months. Some fishermen are already finding some soft-shell lobsters in traps, months earlier than usual.

Fishermen don’t want to see a recurrence of last year, when the strong early catch caused prices to plummet and tensions to boil over when Canadian lobstermen, angered by the low prices, blocked truckloads of Maine’s catch from being delivered to processing plants in Canada.

“I guess we’re kind of just holding our breath,” said Bruce Fernald, a longtime lobsterman from Cranberry Isles off Mount Desert Island.

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