Coastal waters dotted with colorful lobster buoys, harbors filled with lobster boats and fishermen, locals and visitors sharing picnic tables and smiling over brilliant crimson lobster dinners—these are iconic images of the Maine coast.
These scenes call to mind a way of life that has sustained generations of Maine people and millions of dollars that are essential to our economy. And it’s all thanks to one of our state’s most famous creatures—the lobster.
Lobstering is the largest, most valuable fishery in the state and defines many of Maine’s coastal communities. Indeed, our shoreline scenery, economy, and cultural identity would be very different without Homarus americanus, the American lobster. Sadly, unless we take action to stop the carbon pollution that causes global warming, we could find out just how different life in Maine could be.
Climate Change Threatens Maine Lobsters
It takes five to seven years for a lobster to grow to a legal size for harvesting. They grow by shedding their old shell and growing a new one to accommodate growth. This usually happens in mid- to late-summer, but warming waters in the Gulf of Maine are believed to be causing an earlier shed, which can cause problems for the usual flow to market. Climate change threatens lobsters in other ways, too.
Rising temperatures in the Gulf of Maine caused by global warming have put our ocean’s ecosystem on a path that could cause serious harm to lobster populations, and that would have a dire effect on Maine’s vital lobstering industry.
Maine’s Lobsters: We Can’t Afford to Lose Them
The lobster industry is important to Maine’s economy and our way of life:
- Contributes $339 million to Maine’s economy.
- Employs 3,000 full-time lobstermen and another 2,500 part-time.
- Generates 3-5 dollars for wholesalers, retailer, restaurants, and other businesses, for every dollar paid to a lobsterman for a lobster.
- Supports hundreds of small, coastal communities that give Maine its unique character.
- Entices millions of tourists to visit Maine’s scenic working waterfronts and picturesque seaside villages every year.
- Provides delicious lobsters that are well-loved and prized by diners around the world—a flavorful ambassador for Maine.
Lobster logo by Marty Braun