The ripple effect of the coronavirus is hitting our area. The lobster industry, usually vibrant this time of year is being hit hard by canceled celebrations in China amid virus fears according to Yahoo Finance. U.S. Lobster prices have fallen to the lowest they have been in the last four years. Arundel, a Maine-based lobster company usually sees orders from Hong Kong around 1,000 boxes a week at this time.

Lobster flights have been restricted and some restaurants in China may not bounce back their business when, and if, the quarantine is lifted. Many small business owners in China may not survive the outbreak. Lobster prices have plummeted, and inventory is swelling. Prices for New England lobster have fallen 17% since January 20, 2020, per Yahoo Finance. Last year a lobster half was going for $10.70 and now the price is currently at $8.10.

New Zealand has had a unique approach to the problem of excess inventory by allowing a limited release back into the wild of its lobsters after the cancellation of Chinese buyers. You may be able to eat a cheaper lobster for now, but its effect on local businesses could be devastating. Let’s hope we find a solution to this problem quickly.