Sustaining a thriving lobster fishery through science and community.
February 11, 2001
Some Research Predicts Decline; Lobster Conservancy Detects No Decrease
Letter to the Editor
The Lobster Conservancy data on recently settled and older juvenile lobsters have not shown a decline in abundance since censuses began in 1993. ("Lobster study shows likely decline," Jan. 23).
During eight years of year-round sampling we have observed many peaks and troughs from which no general upward or downward trend has materialized.
Researchers at the University of Maine and Bigelow Laboratory have reported a decline in the numbers of lobsters they have been sampling. Based on their census data, they have predicted an impending decline in future landings.
Scientists began taking census counts of juvenile lobsters in the late 1980's. In an ideal world, we would be able to count all of the lobsters that settle to the bottom in a given year.
Because such a count has proved impractical, researchers have been sampling at a smaller scale.
University of Maine and Bigelow Laboratory concentrate their sampling in mid-September while The Lobster Conservancy samples throughout the year. We find our highest numbers of recently settled lobsters in October and November.
Several groups of scientists at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Maine, the Bigelow Laboratory and The Lobster Conservancy are taking census counts of lobsters at nurseries throughout the Gulf of Maine and beyond.
The Lobster Conservancy has not detected a decline in abundance. Perhaps all of the data available should be considered before concluding that the fished stocks are headed for a decline based on such indicators.
Diane F. Cowan