American Lobster Initiative
The Sea Grant American Lobster Initiative, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program, is addressing critical knowledge gaps about American lobster and its iconic fishery in a dynamic and changing environment. The initiative, which began in 2019, supports both scientific research and a regional Sea Grant extension program in the Northeast U.S. Together, the research and extension components of this initiative will develop and share new knowledge and understanding with industry stakeholders and resource managers from Maine to New York.
Goal: Increase the American lobster industry’s resilience to the biological, economic, and social impacts of ecosystem change in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, and southern New England.
The National Sea Grant Office is currently funding 24 research projects aimed at understanding the physical and chemical changes affecting American lobster in the Gulf of Maine. Projects were chosen through a competitive process that included review by subject matter experts. The research competition solicited proposals aimed at addressing one or more of the following priorities:
- Increased understanding of life history parameters, including but not limited to, migration, growth, and maturity;
- Larval studies and early biology;
- Spatial distribution;
- Socio-economic lessons learned from Southern New England as they pertain to Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine;
- Development and operationalization of gear technologies to help industry comply with the final 2021 rule to modify the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan; and
- Socio-technological or socioeconomic research to understand the social, economic, and technical opportunities and/or barriers to bringing gear technology to commercial scale in the lobster fishery.
The seven Northeast Sea Grant Programs have developed a collaborative approach to supporting a regionally coordinated American lobster extension initiative, which will complement and enhance the American Lobster Research Program. This Extension Program will ensure that industry and management stakeholders across the northeast region benefit from research as part of the American Lobster Research Program and other regional efforts. Maine Sea Grant will provide leadership and overall coordination for the effort, and New Hampshire, MIT, WHOI, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York Sea Grant programs will lead locally-relevant components that contribute to the regional effort and be engaged in regional activities. The extension objectives include:
- Members of the American lobster industry have an increased awareness and understanding of the biological, economic, and social impacts of ecosystem change in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank.
- Members of the American lobster industry, research, management, and fishing communities contribute to identifying attributes of a resilient lobster industry within the region.
- Members of the American lobster industry, research, management, and fishing communities contribute to identifying research, technical assistance and outreach needs related to building ecological, social and economic resiliency.
- Members of the American lobster industry, research, management, and fishing communities increase in cross-sector connections to enhance opportunities for collaboration going forward.