Island Ad-Vantages reports on lobster talk by Stoll

Island Ad-Vantages covered a talk by Joshua Stoll, an assistant research professor of marine policy at the University of Maine, as part of the “Lunch and Learn” series at the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries in Stonington Friday, Aug. 31. The lecture series gives residents and visitors the opportunity to learn about complex issues facing local fisheries and fishing communities, the article states. Stoll’s talk, “Why a lobster roll could cost you $40,” focused on the relationship between Maine’s lobster industry and global trade. While Stoll acknowledged that monitoring and assessing the environmental health of fisheries has been an investment priority, he said “we don’t do much to monitor the entire process from boat to lobster roll,” which has significant impacts on the success of the industry. In his talk, Stoll mentioned the example of the 2012 conflict over shipment of U.S. lobster to Canada for processing, which resulted in a drop in lobster prices, Island Ad-Vantages reports. Stoll also discussed the current trade war with China and the corresponding 25 percent tariff on lobster, and the “social buffer” effect of community response to negative impacts on the market. “Communities have played a role in the sustainability system by acting as a backstop to sudden market conditions,” said Stoll. But there can be a breakdown of this connection too. Global distribution of seafood can cause a disconnect between a fishery and its local community, the article states. Stoll cited the example of most of Australian lobster being exported to China, raising prices to levels unrealistic for most Australians. “If that happens [in Maine], then the cost of a lobster roll could be $40. Lobster is a part of the fabric of our community, it’s why people come to Maine,” Stoll said, explaining that fishermen need to maintain that community connection to ensure economic and political support for the industry remains constant. Stoll concluded that more research is needed on the impacts of global trade on Maine’s lobster industry.