by John Upton
Rising flood waters. Exotic disease outbreaks. Melting glaciers.
Pfft, trifling details. Mere distractions from more tangible impacts of climate change.
Because why? Because LOBSTERS!
The Natural Resources Council of Maine, an environmental group, launched a campaign Tuesday that could grab the attention of some who might otherwise not see any reason to care about global warming. From the AP:
In a press conference on the Portland waterfront, lobster industry advocates said carbon pollution from power plants, cars and elsewhere is warming up and acidifying waters in the Gulf of Maine.
Warmer waters drive lobsters to migrate to colder waters and make them more susceptible to disease, while acidified waters hurt lobsters’ ability to form adequate shells, they said.
Emmie Theberge of the Natural Resources Council of Maine said people should support any federal action that will reduce carbon pollution.
‘The fact that carbon pollution hurts Maine lobsters should be a concern to all Mainers,’ she said.
The Council was joined at the press event by scientists and representatives of the Maine Lobster Council, Ready Seafood Co., and the Maine Restaurant Association.
It might seem strange to fret about the fate of lobsters amid seasons of plenty. But experts warned Tuesday that the record hauls of late might yet dry up. From the Portland Press Herald:
So far, one of the biggest problems for the Maine lobster industry, ironically, has been its own success. Marine biologists have documented the fact that while lobster fisheries in southern New England are languishing, those in the Gulf of Maine are thriving as lobsters abandon warmer waters as far south as Long Island Sound and move north.
The surge in lobster numbers in the Gulf of Maine has led to an oversupply, which last year caused the per-pound price at the pier to dip as low as $2.50 in some areas. Partly in response to that, an aggressive new marketing campaign, funded by $2 million a year in state money, is attempting to open untapped global markets for Maine lobsters. Tuesday’s news conference was part of that campaign.
But the lobster glut in the Gulf of Maine is no reason for complacency, marine biologists have warned. ‘¦
Lobsters here have shown negative reaction to warming water temperatures and ocean acidification, as is evident in their early shedding and migrating north to colder water, said [University of Maine zoologist Rick] Wahle. Disease and parasites could become a problem if climate change is not slowed by reductions in carbon emissions. In southern waters, lobsters have developed a disease that causes their shells to slowly disintegrate.
Parasite-riddled lobster scooped from a disintegrating tail, anybody?