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What the Recent Lobster Boom Means for the Boat Building Industry

Posted by G. Christianson on Apr 26, 2016 12:40:51 PM

Lobster has had a strange culinary history. It's gone from a food Maine's prisoners complained about eating to a luxury to a booming business. But with more lobster than ever being processed and sold in products from lobster pot pie to lobster ravioli, it's resulted in a surprising change for Canada's boat building industry.

Lobster Lines

The change is simple; if you want a lobster boat, you'll have to wait years to get it. Canadian boat building companies are reporting wait times that extend to the next decade. Established lobster fishermen are buying new and larger boats to grow their business, while fishing companies that have specialized in other seafood are interested in buying boats to get into the increasingly profitable lobster business.

Demand for lobster has skyrocketed in part because increasingly, American lobster catches are being processed in America, while the Canadian lobster industry has grown substantially to meet the demand. More and more often, Canadian processing plants are working with lobster caught only a few miles away, instead of packed onto a ship and hauled across the border from Maine. Fuel is cheap thanks to a struggling oil market and Canadian fishing companies also enjoy a cost advantage thanks to the US dollar's relative strength in Canada. That's meant that lobster fishermen have far more money in their pockets and they're upgrading or buying new craft while the boom is good.

Better Boats

In turn, though, that means that lobster boats are becoming more complex and advanced, both on their decks and in their quarters. In order to make the sometimes long journeys and arduous work easier for their crews, lobstermen are installing TVs, building rest spaces with Internet capabilities, and generally expanding the size of their ships.

That's meant far more costly boats and better revenues for the boat building industry, but larger boats mean more time spent on each order. Some yards that would build twelve to fourteen smaller boats in a year are now working on more expensive, larger orders that have halved their production. Not helping matters is a labor crunch as boat building companies find themselves in need of more employees and forced to turn down business as a result. The one-two punch of high demand and low capacity has meant the Canadian boat building industry has been forced to leave money on the table simply due to the fact that it can't fulfill the contracts in a timely manner.

Hidden in this challenge is an opportunity. Boat building is a complex business, but the companies that work out smarter, more fuel-efficient and power-efficient systems that are easier to install and maintain will inevitably see more business. The Canadian boat building industry has a rare opportunity to embrace research and development that will drive it to new heights, whether they continue building lobster boats or shift to other industries as consumer tastes change. While building is booming, new frontiers in designs and systems should be explored.

If you're ready to see where you can innovate in boat design, we can help with our
circuit protection products.

Topics: Industry Updates, Marine


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