I recently reported on a new scientific study that suggests Maine’s lobster boom is about to come to an abrupt end, with landings returning to historic levels over the next five years.
First: the lobster boom. From the 1940s to the 1980s, Maine lobstermen reliably caught about 20 million pounds of lobster each year. But starting in 1990 – and for reasons that are still debated – the catch began to increase steeply, surpassing 30 million pounds in 1991, 50 million in 1999 and 80 million 10 years later. The catch has exceeded 100 million pounds every year since 2011, hitting a jaw-dropping 132.6 million in 2016 before ticking downward to 119.6 million in 2018.
But, as I reported in the Portland Press Herald, a new and improved version of the priority lobster population prediction model — one that takes into account increases in water temperature and resultant lobster diseases — suggests the boom is about to sharply end, with the most brutal downturns in landings occurring in the places where the boom has been the loudest. But there’s a caveat: all of this could be wrong if the warming of the Gulf of Maine is driving baby lobsters to settle in deep water where they were once unable to survive.
Enjoy the article for details.