Climate Change May Make Maine Lobster a Thing of the Past
People representing Maine's lobster industry and tourism industry as well as education and conservation advocates held a press conference in Portland to launch an awareness campaign in an attempt to save the crustacean that made their state famous, according to the Associated Press.
As climate change warms the Atlantic waters off of Maine that the lobster thrives in it may devastate the state's lobstering industry by forcing the creatures further north.
"Warming ocean temperatures could shift suitable lobster habitat north," Dr. Rick Wahle, Research Professor at the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center, said in a press release. "ON the one hand, warming may open new habitat that was historically too cold. On the other hand, warmer waters may threaten Maine's lobster population by introducing predators or competitors from the south, and through other negative biological impacts."
Lobster fishing accounts for a fairly hefty portion of Maine's economy before accounting for the ancillary economic benefits such as tourism. Last year Maine lobstermen hauled in a record 126 million pounds of lobster which earned a record $339 million, according to the Associated Press.
Waters south of the Gulf of Maine have already warmed up enough to force additional lobsters into the area, which incidentally led to a problem for the lobster industry. Normally fishing industries suffer when the target fish's numbers dwindle. It was the opposite for Maine lobstermen when the population of the crustacean exploded it drove prices down dramatically, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Dr. Wahle explained that warmer waters aren't the only threat that carbon pollution causes the lobster.
"The oceans absorb a significant amount of carbon, making the water acidic," Wahle said. "Acidic seas may harm lobsters' ability to form adequate shells, although more research is needed on these effects."
Marianne LaCroix, from the Maine Lobster Promotion Council, explained in a press release the importance lobsters have for Maine.
"Maine lobster is a nationally recognized brand and an iconic seafood item," LaCroix said. "Maine fishermen have had strict resource management regulations in place for more than 140 years, helping to ensure a strong lobster fishery today that provides a livelihood for thousands of Maine fishermen, businesses and coastal communities."