Bait crisis could take the steam out of lobster this summer

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Members of the lobster business fear a looming bait crisis could disrupt the industry during a time when lobsters are as plentiful and valuable as ever.

America’s lobster catch has climbed this decade, especially in Maine, which is the center of the lobster industry. But the fishery relies on herring, a small, schooling fish that other fishermen seek in the Atlantic Ocean.

Federal regulators are imposing a steep cut in the herring fishery this year. East Coast herring fishermen brought more than 200 million pounds of herring to docks as recently as 2014, but this year’s catch will be limited to less than a fifth of that total.

Scientists say not enough young herring are surviving in the ocean. The cut leaves lobstermen scrambling for new bait sources.

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