Numbers of baby Lobsters Dropped By Half in Gulf of Maine Since 2007
Population of baby lobsters in the Gulf of Maine has reduced by half since 2007. Scientists are baffled having known significant drop in number of baby lobsters, while the population of adult lobsters still remains near a record high.
About eight years are taken by baby lobsters to reach harvestable size. The reports of drop in population of baby lobsters may have negative implications for the state's 4,200 lobstermen, who last year registered a record catch worth $365 million. The figure represented 70% of Maine's total seafood harvest.
Scientists, including University of Maine researcher Rick Wahle, said overfishing is an unlikely cause for the drop in numbers of baby lobsters. The lobster industry is one of the country's most regulated industries.
Wahle said shift in ocean currents, wind and weather patterns may be causing drifts for lobster larvae astray, leading to decline in the population of baby lobsters.
Counting of baby lobsters relies on divers who use vacuum cleaner-like suction tubs and traps to make their score of baby lobsters on the rock ocean floor of the New England and Canadian coasts.
Scientists said that is it is not ascertained yet if the decline in the count of young lobsters will eventually cut into the high harvests. "We don't know if we are coming to a stable period, or if we are going to come back down to Earth. But I think for the first time, we are starting to see a change in the system", said Carl Wilson, Maine's state lobster biologist.
Over the past three years, Maine's lobster industry has enjoyed record numbers of lobsters, but numbers of baby lobsters have been reported to have declined by almost half since 2007, which may be a reason to worry for lobstermen in near future. Lobsters caught off the Maine coast accounted for 85% of the country's overall catch in 2012.