Summit convenes lobster researchers, extension agents, students, and more

The Sea Grant American Lobster Initiative (ALI) held its first Regional Lobster Research and Outreach Summit in Portland, Maine this February. The summit, hosted by Maine Sea Grant, marked the first time researchers funded through the ALI were able to meet with other network scientists, graduate students, educators, extension agents, and fishermen in person since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

American lobster landings were valued at $925 million in the United States in 2021. Maine’s fishery, which has been the leading contributor to lobster landings for over three decades, accounted for $742 million that year. In 2022, the lobster industry was nearly 70% of Maine’s commercial marine landings. Lobster habitat, however, is rapidly changing across the Gulf of Maine. Understanding how American lobsters will react is imperative when trying to better sustain the lobstering industry and overall wellness and lifespan of the animals. ALI research and extension projects explore the biological, economic, and human dynamics of the American lobster fishery and seek to fill critical data gaps. 

The Summit provided a venue for participants to share research updates, receive feedback from partners, explore synergies, and plan new collaborative research and extension projects. Industry members and researchers working with American lobster were able to discuss a wide range of topics, such as the influence of environmental change on larval development, stock dynamics, trophic interactions in the food web, and alternative bait opportunities. 

The two-day event included breakout rooms, a poster session, pre-recorded remarks from Senator Susan Collins, and visits from Senator Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. 

“I think the most exciting part of this meeting was bringing everyone in the network together to talk about all of the different research and extension projects the ALI has funded so far,” said Amalia Harrington, northeast regional lobster extension project coordinator and Maine Sea Grant marine extension associate.

The ALI was established with funding from the National Sea Grant College Program and has invested more than eight million dollars in scientific research and a regional Sea Grant extension program in the northeastern U.S., which is coordinated by Maine Sea Grant. Together, the research and extension components of this initiative discover and share new knowledge and understanding with industry and resource managers. 

Through the Initiative, Sea Grant has engaged more than 60 researchers and 25 graduate and undergraduate students across 40 institutions, as well as 20 industry and management partners.

“The network has grown tremendously. It was fantastic to watch people make connections across their current projects and explore opportunities for future collaboration,” said Harrington. 

A summary of the presentations and discussions and materials from the 2023 Summit can be found on the ALI website. The ALI Research Program will continue to support further inquiry as the National Sea Grant College Program announced another Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).


Posted 13 April 2023