By Carol McCracken (Post #1,459)
The message that lobsters in the Gulf of Maine are vulnerable to climate change was launched today by a consortum of experts whose goal is to educate the public as to how the warming of the ocean and carbon pollution could jeopardize a staple of Maine’s fragil economy. The press conference was held at the Maine Lobster Company, Commercial Street, a popular seafood restaurant/deck on the Porland waterfront.
Dr. Rick Wahle, Research Professor at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center, retold how last year’s warm ocean temperatures in the spring were a key factor in the excessive early production in soft shell lobsters that led to the collapse of lobster prices in Maine. Consumers loved the low prices that resulted, but it was hard on lobstermen trying to earn a living. Wahle said that while early shedding of shells was seen this year, it was not as severe as it was last year. He stated that in 1999 Long Island Sound suffered a collapse in its lobster market due in large part to warming temperatures. The lobster market in the area has never recovered from that. Although the Gulf of Maine waters are significantly colder, the big unanswered question is - how far will the warming temperatures spread? “The lobster is becoming a poster child for climate change,” Wahle said.
“The single largest source of carbon pollution comes from power plants. That’s why it was so important for President Obama to lay out a plan last week for settling limits on carbon pollution from power plants….cutting pollution from power plants is especially important because this is not a problem Maine can solve alone,” said Emmie Theberge, Clean Energy Outreach Coordinator for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, who facilitated the well-attended press conference. Carbon pollution from power plants and other sources is warming and acidifying our ocean waters. That makes it difficult for lobster shells to grow. By reducing these carbon emissions will help ensure the health of Maine’s oceans and Maine’s lobster industry, and a cornerstone of its economy.
Theberge urged the public to support President Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants and to urge Senators Collins and King to support efforts to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, especially from power plants as well.