A slow start to the lobster season sent prices creeping slightly upward this summer—but it’s lobstermen in southern New England, and not consumers, who have taken a real hit.
Warming ocean waters are causing lobster populations to shift to the north, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, and the shift is ending business for many lobstermen in Connecticut and Rhode Island. In 2013, the amount of lobster caught in the New England region south of Cape Cod was reportedly just 3.3 million pounds, nearly one-seventh of the total at the industry’s peak in 1997. Maine fishermen, meanwhile, have reported lobster catches exceeding 100 million pounds for the past four consecutive years; the lobster population in the Gulf of Maine is believed to have doubled since the mid ’90s.
Lobster lovers who aren’t on the supply side, fret not: The shift is unlikely to have much of an impact on the price of your summer lobster bake.
But for southern New Englanders who have made their living in the lobster industry, this aspect of climate change will mark a drastic change in their livelihoods. As of 2013, Connecticut was down to less than an eighth of the 160,00 lobster traps it had at the turn of the millennium; Rhode Island, meanwhile, halved its rate of issuing commercial lobster licenses since 1998.