SPRUCE HEAD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Maine's lobster industry may be breathing a bit easier, after facing yet another potential crisis-- a protest by fishermen in Canada, targeting processing plants that are buying Maine lobster.
Industry experts say about 70 percent of all the lobsters caught in Maine end up at Canadian processing plants. The protest this week was about the same problem that has plagued Maine Lobstermen for several months - the "glut" of shedders, or soft-shell lobsters that have been caught over the past two months.
That very unusual early and large harvest overloaded Canadian processors and drove prices to two dollars a pound and even lower. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports protestors in Shediac, New Brunswick are angry that the low price lobsters from Maine are driving down the price they will be able to get for their own catch.
Fishermen called on processors to buy Canadian first, instead of Maine, and once called the buying of cheap Maine lobster " a betrayal."
According to the Maine department of Marine Resources, 18 New Brunswick processing plants ended up closing Thursday and Friday to help calm the situation in that province.
Fishermen in Maine have been following the protests, and worry that any ongoing closure of processors could have a severe impact on their own livelihoods. They say it also points out how vulnerable Maine is to the Canadian processing industry.
Late Friday afternoon, however, lobster industry officials in New Brunswick agreed to a minimum price for lobsters. They also will be working with the government for additional compensation for Canadian lobstermen.
Maine Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher also says reports along the coast indicate that lobsters are developing harder shells, which will help to increase the price. He also says there are reports that both domestic and international markets for lobster are showing an increase in demand, which should also help to increase prices.