MACHIASPORT, Maine — A tractor-trailer truck owned by a local trucking firm that was carrying 40,000 pounds of lobster skidded off a mountain road in Canada last week, officials confirmed Monday.
The driver was OK but how much lobster was lost was not clear Monday. A photograph of the crashed truck, posted with a report from CBC News, suggests the truck remained upright as it came to a stop on an embankment by the side of the road in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
The accident occurred around 9:30 a.m. Atlantic Time — 8:30 a.m. in Maine — on June 12, according to Angela Corscadden, spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She said Monday the truck went off the road after it lost its brakes when it was coming down the southern side of Smokey Mountain on Cabot Trail, the road that wraps around the island’s northern peninsula.
Corscadden and an employee with LT Maine Trucking, the Machiasport company that owns the truck, said Monday the lobster on the truck was salvaged after the crash. However, an official with the Neils Harbour, Nova Scotia, fishing cooperative, where the lobster was loaded onto the truck, said some of the cargo was lost.
Osborn Burke of Victoria Co-op Fisheries said Monday the truck was carrying lobster destined for the live market, not for processing. Some lobster inside was damaged on impact, and several crates came out of the back of the truck from the incident. He declined to estimate how much lobster or what percentage of the cargo may have been lost.
Burke said some of the lobster that survived was no longer suitable for the live market, though it was OK for processing. In addition to the lobster that needed to be discarded, he said, any crustaceans sold for processing rather than the live market would further reduce the value of the load. He said he did not know where the lobster was being delivered, but the truck may have been headed to the Boston area.
He said co-op employees went to the accident scene to help handle the lobster. He said it took 10 hours to transfer the lobster off the wrecked big rig onto smaller trucks.
Burke did not say how much the truck load of lobster was worth. According to the CBC, Nova Scotia fishermen recently had been paid $4.50 per pound — approximately $4.15 in U.S. currency — but a combination of high catches and a labor shortage at processing plants in the Atlantic provinces has depressed prices.
At $4 per pound, the total amount of lobster on the truck would have been worth $160,000. The retail value likely would have been between $500,000 and $1 million.
Burke said he did not know the name of the driver, who is from Maine. Corscadden and an employee who answered the phone at LT Maine Trucking said the driver was OK but declined to identify him.
The employee at LT Maine Trucking, who did not provide her name, referred questions to another official with the company, but he did not return a voicemail message Monday afternoon.
Burke said the accident could have been worse. The big rig could have gone off the road and tumbled down the mountainside, he said, or it could have struck another vehicle.
“The mountain is extremely steep,” Burke said. “[The driver] did very well with what he had to do.”