Fishermen’s Voice interviews Stoll about recent lobster trade study

Fishermen’s Voice interviewed Joshua Stoll, an assistant research professor with the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine and the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, for an article about Stoll’s recent research on lobster trade. The study maps global trade routes for lobster and analyzes their effects on the relation between those who catch the lobsters and those who consume them. The researchers found an increasing number of countries are acting as mediators for trade between other countries, making tracking lobster and anticipating changes in demand more difficult. “This results in indirect linkages between nations, creating dependencies that are sometimes difficult to identify … As a result, they are rarely accounted for in assessments of fisheries resilience or sustainability,” according to the study. The study’s findings inform the possibility of a trade war between the United States and China triggering a larger-than-expected change in demand for lobster, according to Stoll. “One of the challenges of this complex trade route is that we don’t totally understand where the end markets are. And if we don’t understand that and something happens in one of those markets, it could result in negative impacts to the fishing industry here in Maine,” he said. Market demand has an important role in sustaining fisheries, and producer nations that rely on export nations, like the United States does on China, are vulnerable to risk associated with trade, according to the study. “If we’re not understanding where our markets are, then it’s hard to understand potential impacts on the horizon. I think that sets us up for surprise. And surprise isn’t a good thing in a fishery that supports so many coastal communities,” said Stoll.