Friday, July 16, 2010

Good news: Maine lobster industry is doomed

No one likes to be replaced.

A report from the Maine Observer says the company that owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants may grow their own rock lobsters instead of paying fisherman to pick them from the sea.

This is bad news for the Maine lobster industry, as cheap rock lobsters - the kind with spikey wands instead of claws - will loosen the states domination of the market. However, the Maine Observer reports:

"Bob Bayer, executive director of the Maine Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, disagrees.

“'It’s not something that’s really competitive; it’s an entirely different lobster,' he said. Rock lobster has a much different taste, he said. 'It’s almost like a different market,' he added."

Keep in mind that Bayer's expertise is in biology, not markets. Different does mean lower quality - it just means, different. McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and White Castle do not sell identical hamburgers, but they sell items similar enough to be in direct competition. Rock lobsters are a substitute good and it'll be up to consumers to decide if any difference in taste and the aesthetics of lobster claws is worth the extra money.

If not, many Maine lobstermen will go out of business - just like blacksmiths, buggy-whip makers, slave-ship owners, whalers, carriage drivers, elevator operators and soda jerks. But their loss will be offset by a greater gain to the public, and resources will be freed up to create new jobs.

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