“I’ll have the lobster”: How Climate Change Affects the American Lobster and its Industry

By Maggie Erwin, 2021 MIT Sea Grant UROP student intern under supervision of Research Scientist Dr. Carolina Bastidas

Published in SEVENSEAS Media

It is a familiar summertime sight: large plates boasting bright red lobsters atop beds of lettuce and carrots; tourists gleefully carrying rolls to their picnic tables, packed densely with lobster meat and mayonnaise; customers lining up at the seafood markets, on the docks, or at their favorite lunch joint to enjoy the daily catch. The impact of climate change could relegate these idyllic scenes to memories of summers past.

The American lobster, Homarus americanus, is an iconic species in coastal towns along the Northeastern coast of the United States. In fact, lobsters are the highest valued species in the nation’s commercial fisheries, with earnings of around $684 million in 20181. Lobsters are woven deep into the fabric of the New England economy, with up to 92% of the nation’s lobster coming from the Gulf of Maine, where fishermen and the entire supply chain along the coast rely on the species for their livelihoods.

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  1. 2018 A strong, Successful Year for U.S. Fishermen and Seafood Sector, NOAA