Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Declining Number of Lobsters in the Gulf of Maine #Science

The number of young lobsters is declining in the Gulf of Maine despite years of record-breaking harvests, a University of Maine marine scientist has warned.

Rick Wahle quantifies the population of baby lobsters in the gulf, a key lobster fishing area about the size of Wisconsin, at monitoring sites in New England and Canada every year. His American Lobster Settlement Index, released this month, shows monitoring sites from New Brunswick to Cape Cod had some of the lowest levels since the late 1990s or early 2000s.

The decline in baby lobsters represent an "early warning" of what might happen to the future of the lobster harvest, which is the source of a major fishery and a focus of the tourism industry in New England, Wahle said. Lobsters take several years to grow to legal harvesting size, so the drop in young lobsters would start to affect lobstermen in future years, he said.

"If we were to see a collapse in the lobster catch, it would mean that we're already seven to eight years into a decline in the population," Wahle said.  Baby lobster count drops off US coast, Canada (Update)

- Insert generic hand-wringing about, gee, I wonder what did it -

David Cousens, the president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association, agreed. He said he's concerned about the Maine lobster fishery going the way of the southern New England fishery, which scientists have said has faded in the face of warming ocean waters.

"It isn't encouraging. You've got to find out what's causing it if we're losing baby lobsters," Cousens said. "And we need to do as much as we can to slow down global warming. That is critical to our existence."

Wahle is co-chairing an international conference on lobster management this week in Portland. Environmental factors such as the impact of warming ocean waters on the lobster population are among the focuses of the event.

- PO

Fishermen became their own worst enemies in New England since catch limits were imposed for lobsters due to declining numbers and the fishermen fought like Washington's first squad from the Reality Isn't True division.

It appears the same thing happens in the Gulf of Maine even while egg production remains high but viable baby lobsters is low.  The scientists theorize possibly a staple for them in a type of copepod has migrated due to warming and it seems an intuitive to review the level of the same or similar copepod in Rhode Island waters but that's not present in the article.

Meanwhile the fishing continues at record levels ... but it won't last; there's no possible way it can when the juveniles have no chance of replacing the adult population.

Ed:  thanks for the doom and gloom

It's nothing of that but reality bites and it can bite a whole lot harder than it already has but New England has been abusive of lobster stocks for decades and the consequence was inevitable if there should be any change and, what do you know, the change has been taking place all along.  Who knew.

Ed:  97% of the scientists in the world!

Sure, they knew but whom else.  The question was left to people who don't read and now the lobster harvest is falling apart; it already did around Rhode Island.

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