PORTLAND (AP) – Lobster and pumpkins. They don’t go together like lobster and butter, but a surge in lobster consumption this month is helping to stabilize prices.

Rebecca Brady of Portland did her part to put a dent in the glut of lobster last weekend when she and her neighbors held a party and cooked up 22 lobsters.

“We had pumpkin carving for the kids,” said Brady, who returned to the fish market with her mother this week to buy 10 more lobsters.

While the marketing campaign to get Mainers to eat more lobster appears to be working, Deputy Commissioner David Etnier of the Department of Marine Resources said Mainers can’t eat enough to make up for a sharp drop in shipments to Canadian processors.

“There is only so much lobster the folks in Maine can eat on a weekly basis,” Etnier said.

Lobster prices tanked as a global banking crisis left Canadian processors short on credit, exacerbating problems caused by a drop in demand by consumers.

With a glut of lobster, the average price paid to lobstermen – the boat price – was $4.44 per pound last year, but now ranges between $2.35 and $2.75 along the coast. Retail prices dropped from $5.99 per pound and up to about $3.99 and up, with some as low as $3.49.

Sen. Olympia Snowe said this week she would help arrange meetings between members of the lobster industry and federal agencies that could help create new lobster processing and freezing businesses in Maine so fewer lobsters would be exported to Canada.

Such investments “will reduce the fishery’s reliance on volatile foreign financing and bring new jobs to the state,” said Snowe, R-Maine.

In the short term, however, all of the lobster eating seems to be paying off.

Ben Lindner, owner of Fishermen’s Net in Portland, said sales have been up about 50 percent from this time last year. “I’ve had to hire a few people just to keep up on the volume,” he said.

Sarah Millington, manager at Three Sons Lobster and Fish in Portland, said she didn’t see many local buyers over the summer.

“Now people are coming in and saying, ‘We want to support the lobstermen.’ They’re definitely helping,” Millington said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.