The health of Southern New England's American lobster population remains a concern for fishermen, scientists and regulators. Ideas for how to help replenish lobsters are still making their way through a long process.
This week the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s lobster management board offered ideas on how to improve the health of the declining lobster populations in areas critical to southern New England fishermen.
Mark Gibson, a board member representing Rhode Island and chief of the fisheries division at the state Department of Environmental Management, said they are just that: ideas.
“At some point, we made decide to go forward with an action that would require the states and ask the federal government to implement some regulations, but that’s some time down the road,” said Gibson.
Gibson said the commission would like to see a 20 to 60 percent increase in egg production. That may take catching less lobsters so that they can reproduce. Protective measures may include shortening fishing seasons, reducing catch limits or the number of fishing gear, or increasing the minimum lobster size. But such rules may not be adopted until the end of 2017 and implemented until 2019.
“Sometimes we don’t put rules in place in one shot,” said Gibson. “Sometimes we phase them in to give the industry some time to adapt.”
Gibson said a different committee has to finalize those recommendations, but in the meantime, “what we have from the board… is an expression of concern about the southern New England lobster population—a recognition that the measures we have in place now are not doing the job and that more needs to be done.”
The board has tasked the committee to review ideas and develop alternatives that they can discuss at a meeting scheduled for August.
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