Fall Molt: The time just after lobsters shed their shells and lay low until their new shells turn hard. After the waiting period expires, lobsters eagerly go for food in traps. The two major "molts" are in June and early fall and are - understandably - lobstermen's biggest payday. In 1999, the lobsters never showed after the fall molt, and many lobstermen faced financial ruin.
The summer of '99 was one of the hottest summers on record. The heat most likely contributed to the mass deaths and made the lobsters prone to sickness and disease. It's a clear warning of how higher temperatures around the globe can disrupt ecosystems that people depend on to make their living.
The situation became so dire that in 2000, the US Secretary of Commerce declared the Long Island Sound area a "resource disaster." The value of the lobster fishery fell from $42M to $10M in '02. Over $7M dollars was earmarked to help the struggling lobstermen.