Lobster Research Collaboration Comes to a Close

The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Lobster Research Collaborative (LRC) convened virtually for its final meeting on November 9, 2020. The LRC began in 2018 when DMR awarded $340,000 from the Lobster Research, Education, and Development Fund to support six research projects that take a collaborative approach toward improved science for the lobster fishery. The research projects focused on lobster distribution, shifts in lobster habitat and the changing environment.

With revenues from the sale of Maine lobster license plates, the Research Education and Development Board provides funding for projects that support Maine’s lobster industry. Since 2018, the LRC has met quarterly to share research updates and discuss relevant issues of the day. Each meeting attracted over 50 researchers, students, fishery managers, and industry members.

The final meeting featured two-year research project updates, a summary of the 2020 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission stock assessment report, and a session dedicated to discussing and ranking future lobster research priorities. In preparation for this priority-ranking exercise, meeting participants were asked to submit research topics to represent the most pressing lobster research questions and data gaps. During the meeting, participants were then given the chance to rank (low to high priority) all submitted topics and review the results as a group.
The topics that received the highest priority ranking from the LRC were “Foster and provide funding mechanisms for lobstermen-scientists research projects” and “Develop collaborations with industry to design information products, future priorities, and strategies for the fishery.” Many of the LRC research projects are still ongoing. The DMR will provide a summary of the projects’ findings and the full results of the priority ranking exercise in early 2021.

Research projects funded

  • University of Maine professor Yong Chen received $190,000 for three projects that built computer simulations to project climate-driven changes in lobster distribution and habitat, evaluate the effectiveness of DMR monitoring programs and predict the effectiveness of conservation measures such as V-notching in warming Gulf of Maine waters.
  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute scientists Kathy Mills and Andrew Pershing received $80,000 to compile and develop indicators that show how the Gulf of Maine is changing over time and examine how these indicators affect the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank lobster stock.
  • Lobster Institute director Rick Wahle received $40,000 to develop computer simulations that will be used to examine the relationship between lobster larvae and their likely zooplankton prey across the Gulf of Maine.
  • University of Maine scientist Robert Steneck received $10,000 to supplement his work on changes in lobster settlement, kelp bed distribution and density of legal and sub-legal lobsters along the coast of Maine over the last few decades.

In addition, the board awarded $5,000 each to Dr. Nick Record, senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences; Dr. Jeff Runge, research scientist at GMRI and UMaine; Dr. Eric Annis, biology professor at Hood College; and Dr. Damian Brady, assistant research professor at UMaine. These scientists will contribute their expertise on a broad range of topics and provide data to supplement LRC-funded projects.

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