"Before shedding, the female lobster looks around for a protector male friend who will ensconce her in a dugout or cave or crevasse or other hidey hole where he can stand guard over her softness. She looks around the neighbourhood to inspect the nests and picks one fella and then sets up to shed. The only time the male lobster can fertilize the female is when she is soft, and he does over and over as she hardens over a week or 2....and he keeps other males away too and anything else that might chew on her tender bits.Then , the female stores the sperm in a sac for as long as TWO YEARS and it is she who decides when to put the eggs outside on her tail after passing thru the sperm sac.
The biologist said this is when lobsters should be left alone to go through this important part of their life cycle. He warned that lobsters with soft shells are vulnerable to attack and death from predators and even other lobsters in holding facilities He also said that consumers are not well served because the lobsters are not full of meat the way they are in the Spring. For all these reasons he insisted that lobsters themselves, and lobster consumers would benefit from catches only in the Spring, and then the winter fishery in South West Nova Scotia. Buyers and knowledgeable consumers are well aware that the Fall Fishery as its called is not the best time to be buying lobster. Fishermen do the best they can to leave soft-shell lobster or "shedders" in the water, fishermen in the Maritimes that is.
It's a different situation in Maine. There many fishermen view lobster fishing as a part-time job, using smaller boats. They're allowed to fish year around (in Canada there are very distinct seasons), but they tend to catch lobster through the heat of the summer when lobsters move closer to shore. Consequently a large portion of their catch are these soft-shelled, molting lobsters that Maritime fishermen try to avoid. The Maine industry is now trying to make a virtue of this by rebranding them as "new shell" lobster, and I worry that they will get away with this, and discredit Canadian lobster in the process. Yikes.