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Aquatic / Fishing

Lobster

  • Prices were below the 5-year average for most of 2020, due to the loss of restaurant markets. However, since August, prices have risen significantly and are now 15% above the 5-year average and in line with 2019 levels.
  • Trade issues with China and Europe continue, which has put Canada in a more favorable position to capture export market share. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a negative impact on lobster exports, both due to demand destruction as well as the decline in airfreight capacity. YTD shipments are off by -43.2% from 2019.
  • Issues surrounding the endangered Northern Right Whale continue to concern the lobster industry. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has been working with the state’s lobster zone councils to propose fishing gear changes that will satisfy federal regulators and protect the remaining Right Whales in the Gulf of Maine. However, no conclusion has been reached yet.
  • Federal relief funds will be available to lobster fishermen through the Seafood Trade Relief Program, which will pay $0.50/lb for lobster based on 2019 landings. The program is administered by the USDA.

Scallops

  • Though the disruption in restaurant markets has required significant adjustments for scallops, prices have held up generally well, and are trending slightly above 2019 levels. Retail store sales have been strong. Stocks and landings appear to be holding as well.

Groundfish

  • Disruptions to foodservice markets early in the COVID-19 crisis have largely stabilized. Between the gradual recovery of restaurant markets and pivoting to grocery store sales, most fish wholesalers have been able to secure adequate demand for the region’s catch. Pricing has generally returned to average levels, varying slightly by species.

Aquaculture

  • Shellfish aquaculture has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, although things have improved since Spring. Many smaller producers relied entirely on sales to restaurants and have struggled with their closure.