The Associated Press October 14, 2008
STONINGTON — Thousands of people showed up at a lobster bake to get a good deal on Maine's signature seafood while extending a helping hand to the beleaguered lobster fleet.
To show its support for the local lobster industry, the Penobscot East Resource Center organized the "Eat a Lobster, Save a Community" lobster bake Sunday that offered cooked or live lobsters for $3.50 each on the Stonington fish pier.
The Maine lobster industry is under pressure with lobstermen getting low prices for their harvest while coping with high fuel and bait costs.
The lobster bake was one way to give support to the Stonington-Deer Isle lobster fleet and send a message that communities along the Maine coast can help their local fishing communities, said Annie Tselikis of the Penobscot East Resource Center.
"People are still thinking of lobster as a luxury item, but when it's cheaper than steak it's not. Right now it's cheaper than hamburger," she said.
Nearly 5,000 lobsters were sold at the event, with proceeds going toward fuel credits for the local lobster fleet, she said.
The wholesale price of lobsters has plunged in recent weeks as consumer demand has fallen and orders from major processors in Canada have dried up. Many lobstermen have talked about tying up their boats and dealers have suggested they haul fewer traps to get prices back up.
The price lobstermen get for their catch has fallen to about $2.25 a pound in Stonington, Tselikis said. Lower prices have been reported elsewhere.
In contrast, lobstermen got more than $4 a pound on average in each of the past four years, according to the Department of Marine Resources. Prices in the low $2 range are reminiscent of what fishermen were getting in the mid-1980s.
The Penobscot East Resource Center, which works with fishing communities in eastern Maine, also organized a community meeting in Stonington today to discuss the lobster market and how the community can respond.