NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Maine's lobstermen are working harder for less, as demand drops for their expanding harvest.
As with most things, the recession is to blame. Cash-strapped consumers are avoiding delicacies such as lobsters, driving down the overall price, according to George Lapointe, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
"I think it's largely a function of supply and demand, and the world economic condition," he said. "Lobster is a luxury product."
Lapointe said the price of lobster managed to "claw its way" back to a range of $2.75 to $3 per pound in 2009, after slumping to $2 to $2.50 in the fall of 2008. That pales in comparison to five years ago, he said, when lobstermen were getting $4 to $4.50 per pound.
David Cousins, president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association and a lobsterman for 42 years, said the 2009 harvest was the biggest since the early 1990s, when the annual take peaked at an estimated 100 million pounds. But that is little comfort, considering the dropping prices and increasing costs.
"Our business is based on a $4 dollar-plus lobster [per pound]," said Cousins. "When you're getting $2.90 a pound, you're going the wrong way and it just doesn't work anymore.
"There are a lot of people who are in serious trouble up here, because they have a lot of money out on their business - they owe for boats and traps and houses and trucks and all that," Cousins said.
I guess the middle man is making all the money because I'm still paying $11 a lbs.