Maine’s lobster industry will survive the coronavirus pandemic. Individual lobster harvesters—and businesses all along the supply chain —might not.
With restaurants, bars, cruise ships, and casinos closed or doing substantially less business, the domestic market for lobster has cratered, dragging down its price to $2 to $4 a pound depending on the market, down more than 70% since the novel coronavirus hit. Asia and other once-booming international markets for lobster have essentially closed.
Lobster is Maine’s biggest fishing industry. Last year, Maine’s lobstermen (a gender-neutral term) hauled in 100.7 million pounds of the crustacean, valued at $485.4 million. The price per pound averaged $4.82, the highest average since Maine began tracking lobster harvests in 1880. The industry provides an additional $1 billion in economic impact in the state to dealers, processors, and restaurants.
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