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Business and Economy

Maine To Set Up New Collaborative To Research Lobster Fishery

Robert F. Bukaty
Maine Public
A scientist holds a lobster underwater on Friendship Long Island in July 2007.

Maine’s Department of Marine Resources is launching a half-million-dollar project to get a more comprehensive scientific assessment of one of the state’s most valuable resources — lobster. The new Maine Lobster Research Collaborative will focus on the lobster fishery’s biological, physical and social dynamics, as the request for proposals puts it.

DMR spokesman Jeff Nichols notes that while lobster populations in southern New England crashed this decade, Maine’s landings soared to record levels. Yet there is little research to show whether that can be directly linked to Maine’s management policies. And landings are down this year, while disparate monitoring programs are sending sometimes conflicting signals about overall population health.

Nichols says the collaborative will attempt to integrate monitoring programs, study environmental factors such as the Gulf’s rapidly warming waters and assess the success of conservation strategies.

“Such as the minimum and maximum size, the use of V-notching and the protection of egg-bearing lobsters, and to more accurately quantify their contributions to the improved lobster stock and improvement in landings,” he says.

The contract’s components likely will be parceled out to various scientific and other organizations, Nichols says. It’s being funded by sales of the state’s lobster license plate.