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New Forecast Sheds Light on Timing of Lobster Harvest

Apr 1, 2015
Spring 2015

In early March, we released our first weekly lobster forecast of 2015, predicting a late start to the summer harvest.

July 4 is typically considered to be a normal start date for the lobster fishery in Maine. If the timing is off by just a few weeks, it can have a major impact on the market.

“We hope that our forecast will stabilize prices by helping buyers, processors, and dealers to be ready for the product when lobstermen start hauling it in,” said Kathy Mills, GMRI associate research scientist.

In 2012, warm water temperatures caused Maine lobsters to move inshore earlier than normal, kicking off the high-landings period in the fishery three weeks early. As the supply chain was not ready for this influx, product backed up and the price of lobster collapsed.

Our model uses historical lobster landings and Gulf of Maine temperature data to predict the season’s start date. While the current forecast predicts a late harvest, extreme fluctuations in inshore water temperatures may yet change the outcome.

“There is currently a large amount of warm water offshore,” said Andrew Pershing, GMRI chief scientific officer. “If circulation patterns bring it to the inshore region, we could see temperatures warm up quickly and bring an early start to the busiest time of the year for lobstering.”