Sustaining a thriving lobster fishery through science and community.

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TLC Mission and Goals

Hundreds of coastal communities depend on the traditional, family-oriented lobster fishery, but scientists and policy makers admit that the biological factors that have sustained this fishery are poorly understood. In recent years, many fisheries have crashed in the Gulf of Maine. To safeguard the lobster fishery from a similar fate, it is imperative to improve biological knowledge of the American lobster and put it to work in fishery and environmental management.

The Lobster Conservancy (TLC) works with fishermen and volunteers throughout the Gulf of Maine region to sustain a thriving lobster fishery through science and community. Our approach to scientific research and public education is to actively involve stakeholders in the process of doing science, and to disseminate the knowledge obtained from such research back to stakeholders, as well as fisheries managers and scientists. We study the life of the lobsters from “egg to plate” by working with citizens from “kindergarten to post-retirement”. This approach fosters a stewardship ethic by (1) adding to the knowledge base required to understand how to protect the lobster resource, (2) sharing information with policy makers and stakeholders, and (3) creating a sense of community around a resource. TLC's base of operations is located in Friendship, a small fishing village along mid-coast Maine.

Our Juvenile Lobster Monitoring Project trains citizen volunteers in a rigorous scientific methodology to census intertidal lobster nursery sites. Harboring “baby” lobsters (some only the length of a fingernail), these nursery sites are accessible once a month during the lowest low tides. Their accessibility makes them extremely valuable as indicators of lobster fishery health – the baby lobsters counted today will be keepers when caught in lobstermen’s traps six or seven years from now. More than 60 citizen volunteers surveying over 20 sites make possible an affordable census of the next generation of lobsters, and help manage the resource sustainably.

TLC scientists train volunteers in coastal Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts to census lobster nursery grounds to assess the health of lobster populations. (Photo by Diane F. Cowan)

Our Lobster Life Studies Center is a unique research facility that bridges the laboratory environment with the natural environment and connects fishermen with scientists. TLC is converting a donated lobster pound on Friendship Long Island, Maine into a natural laboratory where scientists can study lobsters in conditions as close to the wild as possible. Our goal is to explain how lobsters at different ages contribute eggs and larvae to the population – vital information for managing lobster stocks sustainably. Lobstermen collaborate on research projects that investigate lobster reproductive ecology in the wild, such as the Lobster Sonar Tracking Project.

The Lobster Life Studies Center, on Friendship Long Island, is a unique research facility comprised of a 6-acre lobster pound, two buildings, and a wharf. (Photo by Arthur Thompson, Jr.)

Our Lobster Literacy Program educates the public about the biology and importance of the American lobster. Lobsters are an environmental focal point for coastal residents, but their biology is poorly known. TLC seeks to build environmental awareness and a public stewardship ethic through education programs, such as our Lobster Learning Center on Little Morse Island, classroom and outdoors projects for schools, information networks for decision-makers, and media outreach for the general public.

The overall goal of TLC’s education program is to increase students’ environmental literacy, particularly with regard to lobsters and the marine environment. (Photo by Carla Eutsler)

©2003 The Lobster Conservancy.
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