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As Fish Stocks Collapse, Overpopulated Lobsters Resort to Cannibalism 231

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the blame-rusty dept.
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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As Fish Stocks Collapse, Overpopulated Lobsters Resort to Cannibalism

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  • Soylent Red (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:04PM (#42193857)

    Soylent Red is lobsters!!!!

    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:38PM (#42194329)

      I thought it was crab people.

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:03PM (#42194695) Journal

      "No wonder those humans are always trying to eat us...we're delicious!"

      • by RajivSLK (398494) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @08:17PM (#42198579)

        Interesting fact about lobsters, they haven't always been considered delicious. In colonial times, lobsters were considered "poverty food." They were harvested from tidal pools and served to children, to prisoners, and to indentured servants. In Massachusetts, some of the servants rebelled and demanded that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

        In fact I met a old woman who told me that, when she was young, she would hide and eat her school lunch- her family was too poor to afford anything other than lobster and the other kids would tease her.

        I just goes to show you how society, culture and advertising controls our behaviour, beliefs and taste buds.

        As far as this lobster "overpopulated" lobster nonsense- call me when you can walk along the shore at low tide and just pick them up by the dozens (as was common in years past). That would be the natural equilibrium population before we started commercially harvesting.

        This whole "overpopulated" is clearly perpetuated by someone who wants increased quotas.

        • by sodul (833177)

          True story from when I started at Google, back in the good days years ago. It was on the last company wide ski trip, talking to an other employee.

            - So where is you office on the campus, what is your closest cafe?
            - It is Cafe Foo. (not real name)
            - Oh I like cafe Foo, good food.
            - NO! IT SUCKS! IT'S LOBSTER ALL THE TIME!!!

          She was dead serious. Nobody's complaining about too much lobster or kobe beef these days.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:05PM (#42193869)

    ...is getting pinched.

  • Of course, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbstone (457308) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:05PM (#42193873)

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

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:11PM (#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, (Score:4, Insightful)

        by omnichad (1198475) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:16PM (#42194025) Homepage

        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.

        • by rgbscan (321794)

          and here I though it meant Kobe Bryant. The jokes not as fun now :-(

        • 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!

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          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, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:13PM (#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, (Score:5, Informative)

        by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:17PM (#42194037)

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

        • Re:Of course, (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rickb928 (945187) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:55PM (#42194579) Homepage Journal

          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...

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          newsflash: product is cheaper where it is locally available

        • When I was growing up, you could get lobster from the back of a truck for about $4 per pound.
      • by mbstone (457308)

        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!!

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

        • by Dahamma (304068)

          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 ;)

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Why not cook and freeze them at the port?
        The same way they do with shrimp.

        • by rickb928 (945187)

          Frozen lobster sucks. Period. Good only for stew and, well,, stew.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Lobster is bad enough, but frozen lobster? That sounds... like it brings disgusting to a whole new level.

      • Re:Of course, (Score:4, Informative)

        by rickb928 (945187) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:52PM (#42194551) Homepage Journal

        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, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mr1911 (1942298) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:14PM (#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.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        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.

        • by mr1911 (1942298)

          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.

          The definition of "market price" is impacted very little by cute stories that may or may not have any actual basis in history and not at all by what you want it to mean.

          market price
          Noun
          The price of a commodity when sold in a given market.

          It doesn't matter what it costs the seller to produce the good. Market price is what it can be sold for. If the seller's cost is higher than market price the seller has a problem. If the seller's cost is lower than market price, they have the potential to profit

    • What The Market Will Bear - the real version of Supply and Demand!

  • by calexontheroad66 (975611) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:10PM (#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.
    • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:15PM (#42194013)

      Mad lobster disease, anyone?

    • Exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 tim

      • by robmv (855035)

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

      • by khallow (566160)

        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.

        • by rickb928 (945187)

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

        • 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 suit

          • by khallow (566160)

            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.

            Farmed != harvested. It's pretty deceptive to equate the two. For example, if passenger pigeons had been farmed instead of just harvested in the wild, they would still be with us today.

            A second bit of deception comes from the term, "sustainable". Sustainability is not a bit you set, but a matter of degree. Merely farming a fish that was previously harvested in the wild is a huge improvement in sustainability. Also virtually everything is sustainable in small amounts, be it fish farming or nuclear meltdow

    • by pla (258480) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:29PM (#42194201) Journal
      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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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?

      • by khallow (566160)
        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.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      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.

    • by readin (838620)
      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.
    • The article I read stated that conservation has a hand in it. Kind of like the wildfires getting worse because of burn laws reducing smaller fire occurrence. Honestly, I am waiting for Mayor Quimby to take over at this point.
    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Or under-lobstering!

  • Next in the news: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cyberchondriac (456626) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:10PM (#42193941) Journal
    Mad lobster disease.
  • Why is Lobster still so expensive?

    • by Nyder (754090)

      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.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      For fresh lobster outside of Maine, mostly shipping costs. The actual wholesale price, bought in Maine, was really cheap [wsj.com] this year due to the glut.

    • by hubang (692671)

      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... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slew (2918) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:36PM (#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.

  • 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.

  • no wonder it's called "wild" lobster. the boors.

  • No wait. Hedge fund managers would eat their own young. Without salt.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:25PM (#42194159)

    I hope this leaves enough cave lobster for my Dwarves!

  • 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!

    • Of course lobsters feel. As do humans, who happen to have been doing the exact same thing to each other for a long, long time.

  • lobster fed lobster stuffed with lobster.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:48PM (#42194487)

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

  • 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.
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:10PM (#42194789) Homepage Journal

    Whoever first ate lobster.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      But not as much as the guy who was hungry enough to first eat an oyster.

      • I don't know about respect. I've got compassion for anyone who is starving to death. People in that situation will eat anything: grass, bark, dirt, rocks, rotten things, people, etc. You can be certain that people have eaten anything they can get their hands on. Most things that turn out to not kill you ends up in our regular diet, subject to cultural preferences.
  • Never been observed? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:56PM (#42195227) Homepage Journal

    Maybe you're too young to remember, or you can't find it easily on the Internets, but back in the 60s when I was a kid, my family used to own French House Island off Jonesport in Maine, and we'd be up there every summer.

    It had been observed then.

    Now, that said, there's nothing better than Maine Lobster. We used to make blueberry pancakes from the blueberries on the island, and eat fresh lobster in butter, as well as clams we dug up and mussels.

    But just because you can't find it observed this century doesn't mean it's "never been observed".

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:15PM (#42195391)

    Wouldn't you?

  • by azav (469988) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:35PM (#42195615) Homepage Journal

    Lobsters do this anyway.

    Source: my degree in Marine Biology.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      What, proof by authority? Well, I sneer at that, and will do my own... wait, you're right.

  • I blame (Score:5, Funny)

    by Krojack (575051) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:49PM (#42196681)

    all the vegetarians out there... They should eat more meat.

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