Lobsters, which make up the nation’s second-most valuable fishery, are sensitive to temperature, preferring the chilly North Atlantic to southerly waters. Since the 1970s, the epicenter of the lobster population has shifted more than 100 miles to the north as the Gulf of Maine warmed. That brought new prosperity to Maine coastal villages, while in southern New England, lobster populations and profits dwindled — and, in some places, all but vanished.
Vinalhaven need only look to the south to see how Maine’s boom times could end. In the once bountiful waters off Connecticut, a single full-time lobsterman remains — but today he fishes in a watery graveyard. The lobster catch has also waned in the hard-hit fishing ports of Rhode Island and the south coast of Massachusetts.