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Reconsidering the lobster, the lobster worker and the burning lobster factory


“Consider the lobster” wrote the late David Foster Wallace in his famous essay on visiting the annual Maine Lobster Festival. So let’s.

I was surprised by the news of the March 1st fire at Paturel’s lobster plant on Deer Island. This is the second fire there in the last two years, this one putting 130 people out of work. Reports say they won’t be back to work for two years—bad news for a small island that already has high unemployment and limited job opportunities.

Canada produces about a third of the world’s lobster. Half of that—25,000 metric tonnes a year—comes from New Brunswick. Today a live 1-pound lobster sells online for $13.50 US. Doing the math, New Brunswick’s annual catch comes to $742,500,000 US. The province’s processed (frozen) lobster alone, not including live lobsters, hauls in between $400 and $500 million a year, according to the Lobster Council of Canada. That’s big business.

Back in the 1930s there were over 700 lobster canning plants in Canada. A century before tha…

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