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Record Lobster Production Defies Alarmist Climate Scare

March 7, 2019

Marine fisheries data show New England lobstermen are benefiting from a new golden age of lobster, thanks in large part to a warming Earth.

Marine fisheries data show New England lobstermen are benefiting from a new golden age of lobster, thanks in large part to a warming Earth. Yet Democrats in Congress and even lobster lobbyists asserted in House climate hearings earlier in February that global warming is causing a lobster apocalypse. Thankfully, facts and scientific evidence can help us put this latest global warming scare to rest.

On February 7, Democrats in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife held hearings with the purpose of raising concern about global warming. Democrats called a witness from a Massachusetts lobster association claiming global warming is reducing the number and availability of lobsters to harvest in New England, specifically in the Gulf of Maine. The witness claimed that ocean acidification is making it more difficult for lobsters to calcify their shells and reach maturity. She also asserted that the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than almost any other ocean region in the world, and that the warming is chasing lobsters from coastal shores into deeper waters, where lobstermen have a more difficult time harvesting them. She further claimed global warming is chasing the lobsters north to Canada.

Overlooking for the moment that Democrats’ PETA allies would consider it good news if global warming were inducing lobsters to relocate to waters where lobstermen can’t reach them, let’s take a look at lobster production in Maine and the rest of New England in recent decades. After 30 years of modest global cooling, global temperatures resumed their post-Little Ice Age warming in the late 1970s. The Maine Department of Marine Resources reports Maine lobstermen caught 16.5 million pounds of lobsters in 1975, at the end of that cooling spell. By 2000, Maine lobstermen caught over 50 million pounds per year. In 2016, Maine lobstermen processed 132.5 million pounds of lobsters. Maine lobstermen now catch approximately 800 percent more lobsters than they did when global warming resumed 40 years ago.

And it is not just Maine. The Democratic witness represents lobstermen in Massachusetts. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Massachusetts lobster production rose from 6.7 million pounds in 1975 to 15.8 million pounds in 2000 and 17.7 million pounds in 2016. Massachusetts lobster production has nearly tripled as global temperatures modestly rose!

 

In New Hampshire, lobster production has risen from 480,000 pounds in 1975 to approximately 1.7 million pounds in 2009 and 6 million pounds in 2016—more than 12 times more lobster production now than before recent global warming.

Furthermore, as climatologist David Legates testified in the hearing, controlled scientific studies show that adding more carbon dioxide to the air and water aids the growth of crustaceans rather than impedes it.

The irrefutable data show New England lobstermen are benefiting from a mind-blowing increase in lobster production as the Earth has warmed and atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have increased. Carbon dioxide and global warming appear to have had an even greater and more beneficial impact on lobsters than it has had on global crop production, which is stunning, because crop production has also benefited remarkably. (See here, for the stunning growth in global crop production as the planet has warmed). Yet, somehow, alarmists and even lobster lobbyists claim global warming is causing a lobster apocalypse. How can this be?

The Democratic witness likely believes with all her heart that global warming is harming New England lobster production. The problem is global warming alarmists and the environmental left incessantly barrage people with speculative theories and unsupported claims that global warming is making everything worse. It is easy to fear what we don’t understand, especially when activists tell you that you are becoming a victim as a result.

New England lobstermen will certainly become very worried when they are barraged with claims that global warming is making it tougher for them to succeed at their jobs. The irrefutable facts, however, show that global warming is the best thing that could ever have happened to New England lobstermen.

Article Tags
Environment
Author
James Taylor is a senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute.
jtaylor@heartland.org