Maine lobster industry may have hauled record 2011 catch

CAMBRIDGE, Mass Wed Feb 1, 2012 4:09pm EST

Nate Brooks prepares lobster traps in Kennebunkport, Maine, August 1, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young

Nate Brooks prepares lobster traps in Kennebunkport, Maine, August 1, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass (Reuters) - Maine's lobster industry is on track to set a record for the size of last year's haul, but it is uncertain whether prices will rebound to match the catch, state authorities said on Wednesday.

Preliminary figures indicate Maine fishers caught more than 100 million pounds of lobster in 2011, up from a previous record of nearly 96.2 million pounds the year before, said Heidi Bray, a scientist at the Department of Marine Resources who tracks the data.

Lobster prices dropped when the economy soured in 2008 and remain low, she said.

Prices fell to $2.93 per pound in 2009 from $3.51 the previous year but recovered somewhat to $3.31 in 2010, she said.

"This is more of a luxury item, so the fishermen weren't able to get the prices they did before," Bray said.

The state agency is still collecting reports from dealers, and final numbers will not be released until late February.

Lobster accounts for about 70 percent of Maine's seafood industry, which includes more than 4,000 active lobster fishers, she said.

The amount of lobster caught will probably remain high for the next several years, she added.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering, Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst)

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