February 7, 2023

Ag Economy

Aquatic/Fishing Industry Snapshot

Lobster

  • Last year’s abnormally high prices brought resistance from some consumers and wholesale buyers. Prices this year have declined to closer to the five-year average which has helped with product movement.
  • The ongoing concern regarding the endangered Northern Right Whale continues to worry the industry. Lobstermen will have to modify their gear and deal with area closures. Recently, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s influential seafood watch rating downgraded American Lobster to “avoid” status due to the situation with whales and gear entanglement. This action has been highly controversial and drawn significant pushback from the industry as well as Maine lawmakers. The recently-passed Federal Omnibus Spending Bill contained a provision giving the industry a 6-year reprieve from new gear requirements which was simultaneously applauded by lobstermen and criticized by conservation groups. 
     

Scallops

  • Scallop pricing remains favorable. NOAA made the decision not to lease new scallop permits for this fishing season. Some industry analysts believe this is favorable for independent fishermen as it may limit the influence of investors and reduce consolidation.
  • The scallop fishery is generally considered well-managed and there is no evidence of overfishing.  Scallop availability levels, as witnessed by annual landings, have recently come off a cyclical peak, with annual landings ranging from 51 MM to 60 MM lbs from 2017-2019. Although the fishery is healthy, biomass and landings dipped in 2020 (41 MM lbs) and 2021 (40 MM lbs.) with further reductions in 2022 and expected in 2023, which should result in stable but lower production. The New England Fisheries Management Council is estimating the 2022 US harvest of scallops will come in at 34 MM lbs. The 2023-2024 fishing year is looking to have 24 open days-at-sea and two 12,000 lb. closed area trips, with a projection of approximately 35 MM lbs.   
     

Groundfish

  • Pricing for most species remains high. Landings have generally been slightly below-average, but this has been made up for by higher prices. 

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