By Clint Rainey
It's been a full three weeks since the last round of dire seafood-related news, so to shake everyone out of their complacency, a new study by University of Maine scientists has dropped the bomb that rising ocean temperatures are such a problem for baby lobsters that by the year 2100 you can say good-bye to lobster rolls if waters continue warming at the current rate. Their study, which appears in this month's issue of ICES Journal of Marine Science, found larvae can't thrive in water that's five degrees above the current temperature in the Gulf of Maine, which is where America's primary lobster fishery is located. To put that in context, they note the U.N.'s climate-change panel predicts the Gulf of Maine will be five degrees warmer in 2100, just 84 years from now.
Experts tell the Associated Press the report's findings are "a wake-up call" to the seafood's plight, and also to the fact that lobster fishermen have it worse than anyone really thought. Their industry is sort of enjoying boom times right now; they've brought in more than 100 million pounds of lobster now for seven years straight. But the dastardly effects of climate change are already obvious in south New England, where there's already been "a near total collapse" of the lobster population off Rhode Island, and the annual catch below Cape Cod has shrunk from 22 million pounds in its prime (1997) to 3 million pounds today. Climate change will keep whittling those stocks down further.
Also, interestingly: Higher temperatures also cause baby lobsters to develop super fast, which could be great for avoiding predators in the wild, if only they survived long enough to put their new mutant bodies to use.