You may recall a few weeks ago when we discussed the coming Lobster Wars involving the United States, Canada and China. (There’s an odd combination for you.) The first component of the conflict has to do with the ongoing dispute between America and the Great White North over who actually owns the “gray area” surrounding the Bay of Fundy off the coast of Maine. Our Coast Guard has been stopping lobster boats from Canada who are poaching in our waters and that dispute actually hasn’t been resolved yet. The other piece of the puzzle has to do with tariffs slapped on lobsters exported to China from the United States.
It’s the trade war aspect which was of more current interest because it would cut off some of the markets for American fishermen leading to an increase of supply domestically and a cut in demand. My conclusion at the time was to say, “with the decreased demand and smaller market for exports, lobster prices should be coming down. Bon appetit!” Well, guess what. It didn’t take that prediction long to come true. (CBS Boston)
They’re lining up for lobster in New England as one local supermarket charges $4.99/pound, but it’s not the only place lobster prices are dropping.
That’s good news for consumers, but not so good for the people who catch the tasty crustacean. Monday we found out what’s behind the price drop, and whether the new tariff war is playing a role…
“That’s due to the increased fishing efforts, and also there’s an influx of Canadian lobsters into our market,” [Beth Casoni, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association] said. That means even though demand is up in the summer, so is supply.
But there’s a new wild card; the tariff war between the United States and China, with China slapping a 25% tariff on a lot of products, including Lobster.
The China tariffs may be playing some role in the price changes, but even the professionals in the industry can’t say how much. Supplies are also up because it’s just been an exceptionally good season and new fishing techniques are bringing in more lobsters. Also, despite the aforementioned border war, the Canadians are catching more lobsters than usual and sending some of their stock down to Maine. All of that adds up to some of the cheapest lobster prices in recent memory. So rather than being scared off by the effects of the trade war with China, the real winners here are the consumers.
The downside to all of this is that running a lobster business isn’t cheap and if prices go too low the fishermen will be taking a serious hit. But as with any form of agriculture or aquaculture, that’s always a risk. Still, the lobster boat captains deserve some help from their government, though not in the form of bailouts. The Canadians have been thumbing their noses at us for too long. It’s time for President Trump to let them know that we’re claiming the entire Bay of Fundy and a good portion of the coast north of there for our lobster fleets. And in case those wiley Canadians are slow on the uptake, it needs to be a forceful message. May I suggest to President Trump the following tweet:
To Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES LOBSTER FISHING WATERS AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED POACHING OF OUR LOBSTERS. BE CAUTIOUS!
Odds are that Trudeau will fold like a cardboard box in the rain in under a day.