Maine’s lobstermen will soon have to rethink how they catch the crustacean.
Chris Welch has been experimenting for months. Restrictive fishing quotas designed to protect herring, the preferred bait for lobster, have pushed him and other Maine lobstermen to various expediencies—less herring, different bait, different bait bags. Nothing is working well so far. Some lobstermen are stockpiling herring, expecting prices to rise during the summer.
Last year, Maine’s 4,500 lobstermen hauled in 54,000 tons of the critters, one of the highest landings in the state’s history. So important is lobster to Maine’s economy and self-image that the state offers a licence plate depicting the crustacean.
Demand remains strong, says John Sackton, an analyst and publisher of Seafood News. Furthermore, the dish isn’t just for posh restaurants and New England lobster shacks any more. McDonald’s, a fast-food chain, offers lobster rolls. But this season has been stormy.