Lobstermen unload their catch at the Cranberry Isles Fishermen’s Co-Op on Little Cranberry Island earlier this month. Both boat and retail prices have been consistently higher this year than last. Ellsworth American Photo by Letitia Baldwin

Huge demand pushes record lobster prices

STONINGTON — Maine’s prized crustacean has commanded sky-high prices this year as demand continues to shoot through the roof.

“The price is probably the highest it’s ever been,” said Ron Trundy, the manager of the Stonington Lobster Co-Op.

Lobster prices regularly fluctuate throughout the year depending on the demand and the number of lobsters being caught. The price usually comes down as summer rolls on and the catch goes up, but this year, prices have remained high through the summer and into the fall.

Local lobster retailers were selling large lobsters at $9.99 a pound during the first week of November in 2018, 2019 and 2020. This year, the price climbed to $16.99 a pound — a price point it has stayed at since July.

“The price has been really stable this year,” Trundy said. “Other years, it’s up and down a little bit.”

In 2021, the low retail price for the Ellsworth area was $11.99 per pound for a large lobster, according to data collected by The Ellsworth American. In 2020, $11.99 was the peak retail price.

The rise in prices is welcomed by the industry, which took a hit during the pandemic.

“I think catch price being up has helped,” said Ginny Olsen, a Stonington lobsterman and a board member with the Maine Lobstering Union.

She predicted that the total pounds of lobster may be down slightly, but that was made up for in the high prices. For her and other lobstermen in the region, they felt like this moment was a long time coming.

“It’s about time,” said David Horner, a Southwest Harbor lobsterman. “We like to make money, too. The amount of risk and investment is enormous.”

Some of that price increase is offset by rising cost of fuel and bait, but most lobstermen said that 2021 has been good to them.

Colyn Rich, a Bass Harbor lobsterman, guessed that his average boat price for lobsters in 2021 was about $7 a pound, which was several dollars more than his peak price last year.

“July and August were double what it was last year,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

What’s surprised Ron Doane, the manager of RDR Lobster in Trenton, is how willing the public seems to be to shell out for lobster.

“When they line up and pay $34 for a lobster roll, it goes beyond the imagination,” he said.

The market has changed over the years and with new rules and climate change already affecting the industry locally, things could continue to change for years to come. But for now, it’s simple supply and demand, according to Doane.

“We have more customers than we have lobsters,” he said.

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Former reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander, Ethan covered maritime news and the town of Bar Harbor.
Ethan Genter

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