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ASMFC’s Lobster Technical Committee reports on Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank stock status

ALEXANDRIA, VA – After wrestling with the Southern New England lobster stock recruitment collapse, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) American Lobster Management Board tasked its Technical Committee (TC) with identifying potential issues in the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank (GOM/GBK) stock to forestall similar problems.

TC Chair Kathleen Reardon reported back at ASMFC’s recent 2017 Winter Meeting here with good news, bad news, and a GOM tag survey map from the April, 1985 issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

The TC was asked to address specific questions on:

•  The connectivity between Canada and the GOM/GBK stocks;

•  Changes in size and distribution of egg-bearing females;

•  Changes in oceanography affecting GOM larval supply;

•  Stock recruitment in GOM/GBK;

•  The benefits of standardizing biological management measures;

•  A traffic light analysis system to trigger management actions; and

•  Current research holes and how to prioritize work.

The good news is that the GOM/GBK is experiencing record high spawning stock biomass (SSB) and the current abundance reference is above the 75% target threshold.

But Reardon noted that the stock reference points still use the historical reference period based on 1982-2003 data used since the 2005 stock assessment.

Also, the young-of-year (YOY) settlement survey index has been declining for a number of years. With a high SSB, egg production is not likely the cause for recruitment decline, Reardon said.

“Looking at long-term data sets for Boothbay Harbor, Maine since 2000, there have been more days with temperatures above 20°C than in the past 100 years combined,” said Reardon.  And more warming is projected in the northwest Atlantic.

The oceanography in the GOM is complex with counterclockwise gyres, annual variations in the coast current strength, and shelf water impacts to GOM deep water…

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