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Lobsternomics 101: The Lobster Economy From A Seafood Market Perspective

Lobsternomics 101 is a Short Order series delving into lobster economics via voices from the local lobster community. Not the lobsters themselves, but the people who catch, sell, and buy them.

Today we introduce you to Steven Torres of Captain's Tavern Seafood Market, Pinecrest's best kept secret since 1971. Steven is the manager of the Seafood Market (it's also a restaurant) and has been in Florida waters all his 29 years.

Steven talks pricing, fresh-frozen, and hurricanes. Here's what he had to say.

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"Lobster right now is at three dollars a pound. Man, with the price of gas at what it is, if you're in the industry of catching something, for them to say it's $3 dollars a pound is just insane. I got customers that are thrilled about the price, but what it boils down to it is that all the seller's gonna do is break em' apart and freeze the tails so that they get their $9 dollars a pound. They're gonna do the work to handle the lobster. The more work they do, the more they can charge. That's gonna piss a lot of people off that wanna eat fresh unfrozen lobster.

The season's been open a week. Yesterday we bought 10 pounds of fresh lobster, last year it would've been 100 pounds, they're not bringing em' because they can't take that $3 dollars. We're gonna break em' down and sell em "fresh-frozen," that's this years catch, but they are frozen. Those are out the door at $8.99 a pound. Fresh, unfrozen are $12.99 a pound.

One fisherman I talk to is not happy. He's very discouraged and thinking about closing the business cause he's just not gonna make it. The catch would have to be literally a million pounds for him to make money this year, and he's not even catching this year. The guy's traps are empty. It could be water temps, movement, migration, could be anything.

The hurricanes that hit the last few years destroyed a lot of gear, and every time the storms hit it changes the whole sea bottom. It changes the lobsters' migration patterns and it changes where their food is. Lobster eat a lot of plankton, small shrimp and crustaceans. They will find a fish sick or dead and eat it as well, but they gotta find one that's not moving cause Florida lobster don't have claws."

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