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Jun 15, 2015 5:51 PM

Higher lobster prices challenging restaurants on the seacoast


PORTSMOUTH - Monday marks "National Lobster Day" – but before you celebrate, you should know that it might cost you a little bit more for that lobster dinner.

According to data collected by the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, the average price for a pound of American Lobster was $8.05 in March, the highest pricing in more than five years.

In May, average prices per pound dropped to $5.76, but it's still more than a dollar higher than last year which topped at $4.75.

“Lobsters are really unique to this area because our waters are so cold – and what the lobsters are eating makes them taste very sweet," said Tana Laughton, who manages Al's Seafood in North Hampton.

The restaurant is one of dozens on the Seacoast that have faced more than a 20 percent increase in pricing for lobsters this year.

Laughton said the problem has been the weather.

“When the waters are so cold, the lobsters tend to swim further out to sea," she said.

The added time and work for lobstermen, plus the cost of fuel and delivery to get all of the live lobsters to the store, are added on top of the labor cost to cook and prepare it to be served to customers.

It’s become a challenge to clench the quality - without clawing up the prices. Topped with a consistent demand, and a supply that takes longer to find.

"They end up not making that much for the work that they have to do," Laughton said. "They also have to sell them for a lot more per pound. And that’s where it runs into having to put the price up a lot more.”

Fish prices are going up, too.

Combined, it's a big fight that even customers say they’re willing to take on.

“It’s been part of our life since I was a kid," said Carol Sherwin about her love for lobster. "Summer is a time we really usually enjoy lobster, and when we have a family gathering – friends too – we often have lobster bakes.”

Known widely as a New England favorite that has become customary this time of year, some lobster buyers have now opted for "shedders" – younger, soft-shelled lobsters that are cheaper, but offer less meat.

Many say they'll do whatever it takes to get that salty seafood that they enjoy.

“We love lobster," Sherwin said. "And we think it’s worth it!”

With a positive outlook, Laughton said there is a light at the surface: Prices have been consistently dropping only recently over the past three weeks.

It's a trend she is hopeful will continue.


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