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Could climate change be making lobster cheaper?

By Daisy Dunne

Thursday 24 March 2016 Ethical Living

Gourmet food lovers and students alike have flocked to LIDL supermarket stores across the country this week to snap up bargain lobsters. But scientists warn that a surplus supply of lobster could indicate that sea temperatures are rising at an alarming rate.

A surge in wild lobster numbers across North America has seen prices hit rock bottom in the UK. This week, customers at LIDL can buy the shellfish - traditionally considered a luxury - for just £2.99.

However experts say that cheap lobster should be seen as a worrying consequence of climate change. In warmer waters, the crustaceans develop towards adulthood at an accelerated rate and so spend more time reproducing. 

An increase of 2.5 degrees can speed up growth time by up to 20 days, according to Dr Remy Rochette from the University of New Brunswick.

“With the temperature increasing in waters and decreasing the number of days a baby lobster is susceptible, you have less predation and an increase in settlement size lobsters,” she said to The Guardian.

Lobsters prey on small fish and crabs, which may be put under threat by increasing lobster numbers.

But climate change could make other, more commonly eaten food more expensive, according to a study released on 7 March by NASA.

NASA scientists studied the behaviour of bread farmers in Brazil and found that spells of unusually hot weather reduced the number of hours that farmers could spend tending to their crops.

Because of this, crop production in areas affected by climate extremes was significantly reduced.

“This is worrisome given that the temperature in the study region is predicted to rise by as much as 2°C by mid-century under the range of plausible greenhouse-gas emissions scenarios,” said Avery Cohn, professor of environment and resource policy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, to The Independent.



Journalist Daisy



Hello, I'm a science journalism postgraduate student with a degree in biology. I’m passionate about nature, communicating science and social justice. I applied for the role of sustainability reporter because I'm interested in the stories that come from the ever-growing interplay between humans and the environment. As a north London local, I'm keen to learn more about how ongoing development, sustainable or otherwise, is rapidly changing the urban landscape that I live in. Outside of London, I've worked alongside indigenous Costa Ricans to help save the great green macaw, a rainbow-coloured and intelligent parrot that is sadly endangered. Because of this, I'm passionate about sustainable conservation projects that work to protect both animals and local people. If you like my stories, you can follow my rambles about science and animal behaviour on Twitter or Medium using @daisydunnesci.