Happy National Lobster Day!

Any day is a great day to enjoy lobster, but today there is added incentive to crack into New England’s most famous crustacean: the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution designating Friday, September 25, 2015 as “National Lobster Day.”  The resolution, cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and five New England colleagues, recognizes the historic and economic importance of the lobster industry to Rhode Island and other states, and invites lobster lovers to mark their culinary calendars for the last Friday in September.

“Lobstering is a very physical, labor-intensive profession.  The success of our local lobstermen and women goes beyond the economic activity they generate.  These businesses are unique and irreplaceable.  For generations, their hard work, resiliency, and dedication have been a vital part of our coastal communities.  As consumer demand for sustainably harvested, wild-caught New England lobsters continues to grow, ‘National Lobster Day’ offers an opportunity to celebrate and appreciate an industry that supports hundreds of Rhode Island families and helps bring tourists to the area to enjoy delicious, freshly caught lobster and seafood,” said Senator Reed.

“‘Lobstah’ is a New England tradition,” said Whitehouse.  “For generations, our state’s multimillion dollar lobster industry has been an important source of jobs, and it continues to supply locals and tourists with fresh, delicious seafood to enjoy any day of the year.  ‘National Lobster Day’ is a great way for all Americans to celebrate this vital Rhode Island industry, and enjoy doing it!”

Reed and Whitehouse were joined in introducing the bipartisan resolution by fellow New Englanders and U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

According to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), lobster typically ranks as Rhode Island’s second most valuable commercial fishery, behind squid.  Lobster landings in Rhode Island in 2013 totaled 2.1 million pounds for a value of $9.7 million.  And as Rhode Island-landed lobster are processed and move into the wholesale and retail markets, the total value of the fishery increases substantially – likely approaching $28 million – making it a crucial part of the state’s economy.

Nationally, more than 120 million pounds of lobster are caught each year in U.S. waters, representing one of the country’s most valuable catches.

According to lobster experts, after this year’s extremely cold winter in the Northeast, slow-to-warm ocean temperatures are delaying when many lobsters molt, or shed their shells to grow, and is therefore delaying this year’s peak lobster catch off the coast of New England.

Senators Reed and Whitehouse have made support for the Rhode Island lobster fishing industry a priority in Congress.  Last month, the Senators announced$475,000 in federal funds to support research projects aimed at improving the sustainability of local fisheries.  The funding will allow the Rhode Island-based Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) to continue its successful “On-Deck Data Program.”  Comprised of 14 fishing vessels, this program allows local lobstermen to use tablet computers and electronic calipers to collect and transmit real time data on their catch and share it with researchers and state and federal officials studying the lobster and Jonah crab populations in Narragansett Bay and the southern Gulf of Maine to Hudson Canyon.  The data collected will help to develop a management plan for the fishery before it becomes overexploited.  Senator Reed helped secure $190,000 in federal funding for the same program in 2014.

via Senator Jack Reed