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Lobster prices plummet after tariffs take effect

Maine lobsters bound for Shanghai.
Nick Keefer (left) packed lobsters bound for China with a co-worker at Maine Coast in York, Maine, in 2015. –Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff, file

The burgeoning trade war might be hitting local lobstermen after all.

Wholesale prices on lobsters — mostly soft shell ­— have abruptly plummeted in the last two weeks, less than a month after China imposed a 25 percent tariff on US products including the popular crustacean in retaliation for President Trump’s own round of tariffs against Chinese goods.

Shore prices — what dealers pay lobstermen for their catch — have dropped to about $3.75 to $3.80 a pound, compared with $5 to $5.25 a pound about two weeks ago, according to several people who work in the lobstering industry. John Drouin, a veteran lobsterman in Cutler, Maine, said he’s selling his new shells for about the same price and selling what’s left of hard shell lobsters at $6.55 a pound as of Monday.

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