Feel like you’ve been seeing more Maine lobster on menus recently? You’re right. According to Quartz, “the state’s lobster business is the only fishery on the planet that has endured for more than a century and yet produces more volume and value than ever before.” And we’re not talking about a little bit more volume: Last year, Maine fishermen brought in 124 million pounds of lobster, a six-fold increase from 1984.
So what’s behind all this excess stock of a meal considered an extravagance? Quartz took a deep dive (weak pun intended) into the reasons behind this phenomenon, and yet, unlike with recent lobster traps, they still came up a bit empty.
The site posits a number of possible reasons: A rise in sea temperatures and overfishing of some of the lobsters’ natural predators both seem to strongly correlate with the latest lobster boom. Government regulations, both old and new, have also been in place to help maintain lobster populations. Additionally, fishermen may also be “domesticating” the lobster population by providing it with food during the trapping process.
However, Quartz also suggests that a future bust could be right around the corner. Though the number of breeding lobsters is at an all-time high, scientists have seen the number of baby lobsters plummet. Again, experts seem to be at a loss as to why this is happening or what its long-term repercussions could be.
Probably the biggest takeaway: “The ecosystem extremes that seem likely to have produced [the current lobster boom] are volatile. Inevitably, nature warps again,” Gwynn Guilford writes in the article. It’s a lot to reflect about over your lobster roll.