Business

Lobster Biz wants stability after the turbulent Trump era

Portland, Maine (AP)-President Donald Trump has established himself as a friend of New England’s Lobsterman, but industry members are looking forward to what the crustacean business lacked: stability. Said.

Trump’s trade war with China has created years of difficulty for the industry, which is primarily based in Maine. Mr. Trump, who campaigned hard in Maine and won an electoral college in the state, advertised financial assistance and environmental reforms aimed at benefiting the business. The Republican Party had Jason Joyce, a lobsterman in Maine, speak at a national convention.

Stephanie Nado, owner of Lobster, a dealer in Alandel, Maine, said the industry really needed a guarantee that lobster could be sold to other countries without punitive tariffs. She and others said she expected the guarantee to arrive under Democratic President Joe Biden.

“I can’t plan. I can’t live a chaotic life,” she said. “Will the trade war last for a week, a month, or four years? How do you avoid it?”

US lobster exports to China, a major seafood buyer, fell off the cliff after the Trump administration became more hostile to trade. As a result, high tariffs have been imposed on US lobsters, with exporters seeing a drop of more than 80% in the first half of 2019.

Then this summer, Trump instructed the USDA to provide lobster fishermen with financial assistance to cover the income lost from Chinese tariffs. He also mediated the New Deal with China, which agreed to resume purchasing US lobster.

It was a whip at the time for industries already accustomed to dealing with uncertainty due to issues such as catch fluctuations, bad weather and food and fuel price fluctuations.

John Sackton, a longtime industry analyst and founder of SeafoodNews.com, said Joe Biden’s imminent presidency represents an opportunity for stability.

“I think Biden could get things back to normal by getting people back to normal and tackling the virus, which is a huge advantage for the US industry,” he said. .. “Chaos is the enemy of the lobster industry.”

The Trump administration also boasted an environmental policy that said it would benefit lobstermen.

In June, Trump announced a rollback of protection at Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. This is a 5,000 square mile protected area and has resumed commercial fishing. He characterized the area as important to Maine fishermen, but it’s actually close to Rhode Island.

The bigger environmental problem facing lobstermen is a new protection threat designed to protect the rare North Atlantic right whale. Whales are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act and are vulnerable to fishing gear entanglement.

Kristang Porter, chairman of the Lobsterman Association in Maine, said Lobsterman in Maine is ready to work with any administration on the new rules. He said it was impossible to know if the development of the rules would be affected by the change of power.

“It’s too early to tell,” he said.

Although the coronavirus pandemic disrupted all sectors of the seafood business in 2020, the industry itself has been fairly strong in recent years. Fishermen have harvested over £ 100m of lobster each year since 2011, but it’s unclear if that number will be exceeded. this year too.

Lobsterman in Maine is politically diverse and many voted for Trump. He carried the state’s Second House constituency in 2016 and 2020, including major fishing ports such as Stonenton. However, some Biden fans said they were looking forward to a change in leadership.

“He knows how to be modest, smart and surrounded by good people,” said Dave Cassen, a lobsterman from South Thomaston.

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Lobster Biz wants stability after the turbulent Trump era

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