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For Maine Lobstermen, a Perfect Storm Threatens the Summer Season

  • July 03, 2020

The pain is particularly unwelcome for an industry that has spent the past several years caught in the middle of political fights, including President Trump’s trade war with China, looming restrictions to protect an endangered whale species and bait quotas. And then there are the region’s warming waters, spurred by climate change, which have slowly shifted the areas conducive to lobster reproduction away from the coast.

The effect of the virus on the Maine lobster trade is the latest indication of how the disease is upending nearly all corners of business activity and inflicting economic pain poised to last longer than many had predicted. Last month, after groups of fishermen outlined their concerns for Mr. Trump at an event in Bangor, Maine, the president directed the Agriculture Department to provide federal assistance to lobster harvesters.

But that assistance, which has yet to be detailed or allocated, may come too late.

More than 30 million people typically visit Maine each year. The majority come in the summer months for the pleasant air of coastal New England, as well as for the lobster, a high-priced specialty that is a staple of tourist meals.

But the normal influx of visitors has been derailed by the virus, which is surging in some parts of the country, contributing to the general unease many Americans share when it comes to traveling. Further compounding the situation are the quarantine restrictions that Gov. Janet T. Mills, a Democrat, put in place for out-of-state travelers. (Maine has had about 3,300 virus cases, one of the lowest numbers in the country, according to data compiled by The New York Times.)

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