From staff and wire reports
DEER ISLE, Maine — The decline in the price fishermen get for lobster will be the topic of a community meeting at 6 tonight at the Reach Performing Arts Center.
Sponsored by the Penobscot East Resource Center, the “Community Lobster Crisis” meeting will provide an opportunity for fishermen and community members to discuss the recent drop in the price of lobsters and to discuss ideas about how to respond locally in the short term and the long term as fishermen adjust to the changing market.
The meeting comes on the heels of the “Eat a Lobster, Save a Community” lobster bake Sunday that offered cooked or live lobsters for $3.50 each on the Stonington fish pier.
Thousands of people showed up at the lobster bake which sold close to 5,000 lobsters, with proceeds going toward fuel credits for the local lobster fleet, according to Annie Tselikis of the Penobscot East Resource Center.
The lobster bake was intended to support the Stoning-ton-Deer Isle lobster fleet and to send a message that communities along the Maine coast can help their local fishing communities, Tselikis said.
“People are still thinking of lobster as a luxury item, but when it’s cheaper than steak it’s not. Right now it’s cheaper than hamburger,” she said.
The price of lobster, which has been low through most of the summer, dropped by 20 percent last week. According to previous reports, concerns over the crisis on Wall Street have curbed consumer demand for “luxury items,” and the international credit crisis has effectively shut off orders from major processors in Canada.
The price for lobster has continued to decline to 1980 levels. Fishermen reportedly were getting $2.25 a pound in Stonington this weekend with prices closer to $2 a pound reported in other areas of the state.
That’s compared to the $4 a pound which, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, fishermen have received in the past several years.
The decline, comes at the start of the peak lobster season while fishermen continue to struggle with high fuel and bait costs. Many lobstermen have talked about tying up their boats and dealers have suggested they haul fewer traps to get prices back up.
BDN writer Rich Hewitt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.