Lobster & the Future of Bait
Herring, Menhaden & Saving SNE Lobster at ASMFC
by Laurie Schreiber
BAR HARBOR—At its Oct. 27 meeting, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) American Lobster Board considered management goals and options, in the form of Addendum XXV to its Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Lobster, to address lobster stock declines in Southern New England (SNE).
The ASMFC wants to boost the stock there, while also keeping lobstermen fishing. To get there, the ASMFC has focused on the idea of increasing egg production by imposing further limits on fishing. The limits under consideration include gauge size changes, trap reductions, and season closures.
The 2015 lobster assessment found record high abundance for the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank stock, but record low abundance in SNE, with poor prospects of recovery and necessitating protection. SNE stock abundance increased from the early 1980s, peaked during the late 1990s, then declined steeply through the early 2000s to a record low in 2013. Declines are most pronounced inshore, where environmental conditions, including increasing water temperatures over the last 15 years, have remained unfavorable to lobsters since the late 1990s.