‘I’m not a quitter’: lobstermen turn to kelp farming in the face of climate crisis

Climate breakdown is causing the Gulf of Maine to heat up and that effect – in addition to the pandemic – is being felt across the lobster industry

Rocky shorelines and weathered saltbox homes dot the landscape of South Thomaston on the coast of Maine. Lobster traps take up frontyard real estate and lobster shacks, still shuttered for the season, are common sightings. Back from a day of scalloping, lobsterman Bob Baines has docked his boat, the FV Thrasher, at the Spruce Head Fishermans Co-op. His sternman, David McLellan, clad in waterproof overalls like Baines, shucks the last few hauls, tossing the meats into a bucket and the shells overboard.

It’s the last week of scallop season, but there is a new venture on the horizon. Baines, 64, steers the Thrasher back out toward Hewett Island on Penobscot Bay to check on the underwater kelp farm that he “planted” in December. It’s a willowy structure made up of moorings, buoys and ropes that hovers 7ft underwater and spans 1,000 feet wide, like a monster cat’s cradle.

Related: Climate crisis and antibiotic use could ‘sink’ fish farming industry – report

If it’s a bad year for lobster, it’s a very bad year for lobstermen.

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