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As Fish Stocks Collapse, Overpopulated Lobsters Resort to Cannibalism

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the blame-rusty dept.

Idle 231

The Maine lobster population is booming, but it turns out that's bad news if you're a little lobster: "'We've got the lobsters feeding back on themselves just because they're so abundant,' said Richard Wahle, a marine sciences professor at the University of Maine, who is supervising the research. 'It's never been observed just out in the open like this,' he said." Abundance caused by populations of their predators collapsing.

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231 comments

I guess the food supply (5, Funny)

shentino (1139071) | about a year ago | (#42193869)

...is getting pinched.

Re:I guess the food supply (2, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | about a year ago | (#42194031)

No no no. Here's the proper way to do it:

I guess the food supply...

*put on sunglasses* ... is getting pinched.

YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAHHH!!!

Re:I guess the food supply (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194035)

YEAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:I guess the food supply (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194049)

YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

This line exists to thwart the lameness filter.

Of course, (4, Insightful)

mbstone (457308) | about a year ago | (#42193873)

If you want to order lobster in a restaurant they will still charge "Market Price."

Re:Of course, (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42193963)

Lobster Fed Lobster requires a premium price.

I'm super rich, so I only eat Lobster Lobster and Kobe Kobe (kobe beef fed with kobe beef). I look forward to the availability of kobe lobster lobster (lobsters only fed lobsters fed with kobe beef).

Re:Of course, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42193985)

You're missing out on chestnut fed pork.

Re:Of course, (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194079)

Yeah, I mean it takes a lot of facelifts to get the nuts up to chest level to begin with, and harvesting them can be a painful process.

They make for excellent pork however.

Re:Of course, (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#42194283)

Hmm...well, if you have too many lobsters...ship'em down here, and we'll come up with a good Lobster Gumbo...or Etoufee, or Courtboullion, or Lobster Remoulade over Fried Green tomatoes...or Lobster and Corn Bisque...or.....

Man...its tough to lose weight living in LA.

Re:Of course, (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about a year ago | (#42194635)

hello from Hattiesburg, MS.. since im down in your part of the country - be sure to invite me to your gumbo party.

Re:Of course, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194771)

Yeah, I mean it takes a lot of facelifts to get the nuts up to chest level to begin with, and harvesting them can be a painful process.

They make for excellent pork however.

holy fucking lol

Re:Of course, (3, Insightful)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#42194025)

You can have your Lobster Lobster, but you can't have Kobe Kobe. Kobe beef refers to more than just a specific breed of cattle. It refers to how they're fed, too.

Re:Of course, (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about a year ago | (#42194331)

Don't you tell me what I can't have! Do you know who I am? I'll have you fired you insolent little puke! Now get your ass in the kitchen, and get me some fucking Kobe Kobe!

Re:Of course, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194483)

This calls for legislative action!

Re:Of course, (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#42194841)

You can have your Lobster Lobster, but you can't have Kobe Kobe. Kobe beef refers to more than just a specific breed of cattle. It refers to how they're fed, too.

You overlooked the option of cultivating grain and grass with kobe grade beef as fertilizer...

Re:Of course, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194611)

Lobster Fed Lobster requires a premium price.

I'm super rich, so I only eat Lobster Lobster and Kobe Kobe (kobe beef fed with kobe beef). I look forward to the availability of kobe lobster lobster (lobsters only fed lobsters fed with kobe beef).

Turducken: You're doin' it wrong.

Re:Of course, (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42193991)

There is a good, free market, reason for this. If you live outside Maine, the cost of shipping live lobsters is mostly keeping them alive (water is heavy, temperatures need to be maintained, etc.). If you live in Maine, then the restaurants aren't limited by the price of their food, but by their seating/serving capacity. They can charge their normal price, and still fill all their seats, so why lower the price?

Re:Of course, (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42194037)

There actually is pretty cheap lobster in Maine in the right season. Absurdly cheap, really.

Re:Of course, (4, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#42194579)

Yes, it is. my mom, when were were young, and on food stamps, used to buy lobster on sale - and people would stare. But a 1 1/4 lb lobster actually goes a long way, better than steak. You get enough to keep 2 pre-teen kids happy, pick the carcass for all the leftover meat and get a nice stew for another meal minimum. We were 5 kids, so 4 lobsters would feed us for 3 dinners, about $12-15 on sale. Not that we complained much...

Re:Of course, (1)

mbstone (457308) | about a year ago | (#42194163)

I live in Las Vegas and they have seemingly limitless supplies of Alaska king crab at the buffet for a reasonable price. How come, given this alleged overabundance of Maine lobster, it's not the same for lobster?? I want my $15 all-you-can-eat lobster buffet!!

Re:Of course, (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about a year ago | (#42194263)

Those attached to hotels I'm sure are subsidized by casino revenue, same as the cheap (compared to elsewhere) hotels themselves.

Re:Of course, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194411)

Beyond the buffet just being a marketing ploy for the profit center (the casino), that crab is all cooked in Alaska and shipped down frozen. Very cheap to ship, which is why I can buy king leg clusters at the supermarket for $8 a pound right now in Idaho, well inland.

Re:Of course, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194451)

Crab is usually frozen before shipping, so it lasts longer.

Re:Of course, (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#42194641)

Crab is caught, frozen, and processed all in Alaska (often all on boats!), so shipping it isn't a problem. Come one, don't you watch Deadliest Catch?

Also, if you have ever eaten way more lobster than you really should have, you will quickly realize all-you-can-eat lobster is a one-time-thing ;)

Re:Of course, (3, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#42194551)

Actually, most lobster is shipped packed with dry ice, watere is not necessary, and weight is not the issue. It;s nearly impossible to keep lobsters alive in shipping for more than 24 hours (read that as, 25+ hours), so they go by air if the truck can;t get there in time. And nothing quite matches the odor of dead lobster, even packed. Most airlines I know that take them do so with the caveat that if they are not picked up nearly immediately, they go in the trash.

Nothing flies cheap any more.

Re:Of course, (4, Insightful)

mr1911 (1942298) | about a year ago | (#42193999)

If you want to order lobster in a restaurant they will still charge "Market Price."

Yes. Market price is what you, or the diner seated at the next table, are willing to pay. This price has nothing to do with their cost of procurement.

Re:Of course, (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42194153)

True in practice, though it's a bit misleading as a practice. The terminology dates to fish taverns that had fixed prices for items with relatively stable prices, but varying "market price" for items where the wholesale cost to them varied significantly, resulting in them updating their retail price on a daily basis accordingly. Of course, that's not how big fish restaurants actually set prices, but they like to maintain the fiction.

Re:Of course, (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about a year ago | (#42194233)

You're not implying that the term "market price" is historically related to fish taverns...are you? Or are you saying that the modern restaurants continuing to use terminology that implies special bargaining has been done is deceptive?

Re:Of course, (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42194299)

The latter: it's intended (imo) to evoke a perception that the price depends on what deals the chef got at the fish market this morning, which is typically not the case.

Re:Of course, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194603)

buying lobster is like buying kalvin klein. lobster was once consitered a bad, food and fed to slaves and therefore cheap. today its trendy and expensive.

lookup prices of yoghurt and greek yoghurt. kmart jeans and kalvin klein.

nothing new.

I'll eat the lobsters! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42193893)

I'm willing to help by eating some of those lobsters. Where do I sign up?

Lobster zombies!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42193907)

I knew it would start somewhere.

Abundance caused by horsecock (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42193933)

and the rotting remains of Natalee Holloway.

This shouldn't be on Idle (5, Insightful)

calexontheroad66 (975611) | about a year ago | (#42193939)

It's a worrisome development and means that overfishing is collapsing the local ecosystem.
It's no joke, and it's happening all over the world, the scenario is converging for a catastrophic decline in fish populations.

Exactly (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194095)

We go to the market and see the fish case always stocked. But the thing to realize, that as species are being fished out, they fill the case with other species. And prices on some species are skyrocketing.

Farming isn't very viable in many cases because they feed the farmed fish wild caught fish and the cages pollute the ecosystem so badly that the wild fish start to die out. Trout and Talpia are the only ones IIRC that are farmed sustainably - definitely not salmon.

And the thing that kills me, the next time you look at the fish case in the super market, bare in mind that at least half of what's in there will be thrown away.

We are so wasteful that it's just disgusting.

Re:Exactly (2)

robmv (855035) | about a year ago | (#42194285)

This will fix by itself, no food for humans, humans will resort to cannibalism. Sometimes I think we deserve to disappear from this planet

Re:Exactly (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#42194431)

Farming isn't very viable in many cases because they feed the farmed fish wild caught fish and the cages pollute the ecosystem so badly that the wild fish start to die out.

That gets fixed by switching to the many cases that are viable.

Trout and Talpia are the only ones IIRC that are farmed sustainably - definitely not salmon.

Wikipedia disagrees [wikipedia.org] . They claim salmon and carp are the most farmed fish in the world.

Re:Exactly (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#42194599)

Salmon farming is playing helll with wild populations, but other than that it's very sustainable. Just ask the seals.

Re:Exactly (2)

Red Flayer (890720) | about a year ago | (#42194791)

They claim salmon and carp are the most farmed fish in the world.

Just because they're the most farmed fish in the world doesn't mean they are sustainable. Passenger pigeons, at one point, were the most-harvested bird species in the US... turns out that wasn't sustainable. One difference between passenger pigeons and salmon is what the diminishing resource is... in the case of the pigeons, it was the pigeons themselves that were hunted to extinction. For salmon, the resource is ocean/shore localities suitable for farming.

Carp, I'd guess, is sustainable, since it can be farmed much like tilapia.

Salmon, on the other hand, is not really sustainable using current practices, though there is promise for integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) and other methods to improve sustainability.

Re:This shouldn't be on Idle (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#42194201)

It's no joke, and it's happening all over the world, the scenario is converging for a catastrophic decline in fish populations.

Oh, come on, think of the bright side - This means great news for swarms of inedible poisonous jellyfish that can now thrive in the absence of their natural predators!

You didn't like swimming, did you?

Re:This shouldn't be on Idle (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194235)

Or so say the econazis and global warming hoaxists. Meanwhile there isn't a single shred of evidence backing any of these claims up. You leftists will say anything to impose new regulations and taxes on the free market though won't you?

Re:This shouldn't be on Idle (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#42194321)

It's a common theme that fishing boats have to fish more, travel further, and fish less desirable species in order to get a catch. This issue is also pretty orthogonal to most environmental issues, particularly, the notorious sky-is-falling rhetoric of catastrophic AGW. It requires some sort of controlled fishing either by governments or fishermen of wild fish stocks. It doesn't require you to buy in to the other issues.

Re:This shouldn't be on Idle (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42194247)

While you are correct it seems no one is willing to do what we need too to stop it.

Ban fishing of some species in some areas and use the navy/coast guard to enforce that.

Fishermen will have to be bought out by government or forced out of business another way.

Re:This shouldn't be on Idle (2)

readin (838620) | about a year ago | (#42194281)

While our governments are busy interfering in health care, hiring and firing practices, agricultural funding and a million things the market would manage - here we have Tragedy of the Commons problem custom-made for government solutions but our governments don't seem very interested in doing something about it.

I, for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194341)

...welcome our new overpopulated cannibalistic lobster overlords.

So then... (1)

ArcadeNut (85398) | about a year ago | (#42193943)

Why is Lobster still so expensive?

Re:So then... (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#42193993)

Why is Lobster still so expensive?

I live in Seattle and fish here is expensive. but then again, chicken and beef is too expensive also.

Go figure.

Re:So then... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194069)

actually home slice, its really cheap in the grand scheme. The shit produces a lot of waste in every way and isn't healthy when consumed like most americans do. The factory farming is disgusting by the way.

And from a market/industry perspective it is also cheap. Heavily subsidized. Why don't you raise some chickens if you need that meat so bad, boy.

Re:So then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194803)

Heavily subsidized? How are Lobster fishermen receiving subsidies at all?

Clearly you have never raised chickens or you would know intimately well why 'factory farming' is disgusting. They are animals. Even free range chickens will lay in their own poop despite your best efforts to stop them. I don't understand why some people decide meat is disgusting and wasteful while eating other forms of life are not. They both are part of nature, they both are life, we consume both because we are mammals. Deal with consuming other lifeforms as part of the human condition or take action to remove yourself from being part of your perceived problem.

Re:So then... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#42194811)

Something tells me the leasing office would look down on my installing a chicken coop in my apartment.

Re:So then... (1)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#42194087)

Absolutely no idea why lobster is so expensive as it used to be a slaves and poors food, and nobody wanted to eat the darn things. Most contracts even specified "lobster, no more than 3 times a week" lol They arent tasty, and they arent exactly protein of high quality, besides the cholesterol problems. And they are darn ugly too. Besides I remember when I was in Angola that they were cheap than most food in upmarket restaurants, and even so. When eating lobster, what counts more is the preparation than the quality of the ingredient actually. Medium/Tiger prawn are so much more tastier than lobster.

Re:So then... (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about a year ago | (#42194415)

They arent tasty, and they arent exactly protein of high quality, besides the cholesterol problems. And they are darn ugly too. Besides I remember when I was in Angola that they were cheap than most food in upmarket restaurants, and even so. When eating lobster, what counts more is the preparation than the quality of the ingredient actually. Medium/Tiger prawn are so much more tastier than lobster.

"Aren't tasty"? Really? I usually eat them straight out of the shell (preparation: steamed, rarely boiled). No extra fatty butter or other sauce. Mind you, I don't over-salt or over-flavour my regular food either, maybe that's why you don't get any taste out of them? I don't recall un-sauced shrimp (prawn) being any tastier, just a different taste and texture.

Re:So then... (4, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#42194757)

Aren't tasty? what? Lobster is the ultimate white meat.

preparation? A live lobster and a pot of boiling water. This is not hard, people. If you can;t tell if your lobster is alive, it probably isn't, and never cook dead (or dying) lobster.

Quick primer. Boil until the shell is bright red, plunging the lobster in headfirst. It never realized it was dead.

Serve with baked potato, corn on the cob or greeen geans, plenty of melted butter available. Crack the claws off and open, pull out the meat, drop it in the butter. inCrack off the tail, tear off the tail fins and suck on them like candy :). take a cunck of claw meat and eat that, making room for the tail in the butter. If you're lazy, this is it. Otherwise, the knuckles above the claw have meat, each leg has a thread of meat, those tail fins usually do also. there is meat all through the body (carapace), and a little work nearly doubles your haul. Or give it to someone who knows how to get in there. Avoid the tomalley if you don't know what it is.

How to tell if yo got a Maine lobster? Measure the carapace, which had better measure between 3 1/2 and 5 inches from the end of the carapace to the edge of the eye socket. Cheating is very rare in Maine waters, lobstermen will send each other to jail over this... If it is shorter, good chance it came from Canada, or possibly Massachussetts. Those big spots the tail when raw/live? That is not a Maine lobster, probably a Longostino, which is not a lobster. Most are actually shrimp.

Sorry, I love lobster, and miss it so.

Re:So then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194115)

because you will pay

Re:So then... (1)

hubang (692671) | about a year ago | (#42194277)

Why is Lobster still so expensive?

I've personally seen lobster for sale in Maine for as little as $2.80/lbs. That's cheaper than hotdogs.

Re:So then... (3, Interesting)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#42194291)

Why is Lobster still so expensive?

Originally, lobster was originally poor-people's food. In the USA New-England area in both pre-colonial times, they were so plentiful that native americans and early colonists could simply catch them from tidal pools along the shoreline. This made lobsters cheap food to serve toe prisoners and indentured servant (those that bartered for passage to the "new-world" with labor contracts). With the Cod populations crashing, it sounds like we are going back to those times...

The reason lobster got expensive was that transportation costs used to be a large part of the price. Also over time, with most profitible businesses, often the infrastructure determines the price more than the supply. People that own parts of the infrastructure (fishing territories, relay-holding ponds, lobster gangs [google.com] , etc) demand a price level to keep their profit margin the same even when the underlying commodity supply goes up which would nominally send the price down.

Don't tell my wife (1)

John3 (85454) | about a year ago | (#42193955)

If she finds out about this she will demand that we dine out at the local lobster restaurant until the fish/lobster balance is restored.

Yum (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42193981)

Lobster fed lobster sounds delicious.

Re:Yum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194377)

Like bacon fed bacon.

Where's PETA? Oh there they are. (0)

webbiedave (1631473) | about a year ago | (#42194023)

FTA: "allows him to observe a juvenile lobster tethered with a rope to a spot on the ocean floor."

He wants to study cannibalism, huh? Just wait until PETA reads that juicy little line! They'll eat him alive.

Re:Where's PETA? Oh there they are. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#42194085)

He wants to study cannibalism, huh? Just wait until PETA reads that juicy little line! They'll eat him alive.

Human Flesh, the only meat PETA will eat.

Farming/fishing subsidies (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year ago | (#42194185)

Agricultural and fishing subsidies are bad for everyone and everything except the people whose livelihoods being subsidized.

Everyone pays. We pay taxes to save people who don't want to submit to market discipline and find it easier to lobby lawmakers than switch away from failing business models. We pay below-the-odds for shit food that's bad for us (we eat WAY too much meat and corn syrup) and makes us fat; we pay more for medicine to treat people as a consequence. We pay for the negative externalities for the environmental destruction of the forests and oceans.

And we're shelling out for these fat pigs, while government budgets are under pressure everywhere. Killing subsidies is an easy fix.

We pay, pay, pay in every way, while a bunch of fat cat fishermen and agri-businessmen make out like bandits. Somebody needs to find the balls to put an end to this colossal scam, and have the courage to END all primary production subsidies everywhere, once and for all.

Re:Farming/fishing subsidies (1)

Amouth (879122) | about a year ago | (#42194471)

FYI health wise, eating marine meat (fish & shell fish) is completely different then eating red meat.

Circle of life (1)

vvaduva (859950) | about a year ago | (#42194225)

Why is this bad? It sounds to me like the population will control itself and there is built in limitations to the growth rate...who gives a shit what a little lobster does? They don't feel anything anyways!

Please explain once more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194391)

Why the fuck are lobsters expensive and considered luxury food? Supply obviously is far greater than demand.

Re:Please explain once more (2)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#42194649)

Why the fuck are lobsters expensive and considered luxury food? Supply obviously is far greater than demand.

Quantity available is only one factor in price. Cost to acquire, transport, store, and market also add in. Live lobsters are expensive to transport and store, and lobster meet turns to mush if frozen.

There's an old anecdote that's appropriate here. If there were a huge pile of gold bars on the moon, it wouldn't be economical to go get them.

(seafood is typically cheap on the coasts, where beef is expensive. in the central and midwest, beef is cheap and seafood is expensive)

Re:Please explain once more (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#42194655)

Because they're actually still kind of hard to catch? It's either baited cages or scuba divers with a bag. Either one is much more time intensive than dropping a huge net behind a ship then hauling it back in.

Decline In Fishstocks? Bullshit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194463)

The problem is due to shortages in butter, especially drawn butter.

There needs to be some sort of government subsidy to increase butter production, before it's too late!

I think we're approaching... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194487)

I think we're approaching a fishcal cliff...

New Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194633)

Why don't we reduce the population of lobsters proportionally by eating them? Seems like a logical solution

Too many you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42194681)

Send them my way. I'll eat as many as you can ship one person.

Welcome to the final act of humanity on Earth (1)

Agram (721220) | about a year ago | (#42194733)

This is what the last "great" deed of humanity will be once we decimate the food chain and our food sources wither away... I, for one, give the lobster species a honorary status of Nostradamus with pincers.
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