Increasing ocean temperature and local difference causing falling lobster population

Studies reveal that warming waters, local differences affect lobster population.

Recent studies reveal that increasing temperature of the ocean and local differences probably is the reason for falling lobster populations along the coast from southern New England to Atlantic Canada.

One of the papers, published in the scientific journal – Ecological Applications, – was led by Noah Oppenheim, who completed his research as a UMaine graduate student in 2016, with co-authors Richard Wahle, Damian Brady and Andrew Goode from UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, and Andrew Pershing from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

They report that the numbers of young-of-year lobsters populating shallow coastal nursery habitats each year, and temperature, provide a reasonably accurate prediction of trends in the lobster fishery some four to six years later.

Their model predicted regional differences in the recent record-breaking boom over the past decade and now suggests the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery may be entering a period of decline; in effect a “cresting wave” of lobster abundance that may be heading northward in the region’s changing climate.

“Our model projects that the Gulf of Maine’s lobster landings will return to previous historical levels,” said Oppenheim, who is now executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resources in San Francisco.

“These results don’t suggest a lobster crash, but this tool could give the fishing industry and policymakers additional lead time as they make decisions about their businesses and communities in the years ahead,” added Oppenheim.

“We recommend that the stock assessment community and fishery managers use this information in concert with other indicators of the health of the fishery, as an independent early warning system,” continued Oppenheim. The second article, led by current UMaine marine science Ph.D. student Andrew Goode, underscores the importance of local differences in the oceanography of the Gulf of Maine for understanding where the lobster boom occurred.

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