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While lobster landings soar, settlement dips to all-time lows; researchers ask why, what impact?

 

The following is this year’s “Update 2016 to the American Lobster Settlement Index,” prepared and presented here by  Rick Wahle and his colleagues at the University of Maine’s Darling Center.  Our thanks to Dr. Wahle and his team for sharing this important information once again this year with our readers.  –Editor

WALPOLE, ME – Just as US and Canadian lobster landings seem to be breaking all the records, settlement has been dipping to all–time lows.

The disconnect is causing a lot of people to scratch their heads.

Harvests on both sides of the border have sustained an almost uninterrupted surge in abundance for more than a decade.

By 2015, US harvests had nearly doubled since 2003, and since 2000 for Canada, making for a combined volume of 157 thousand metric tons (346 million lbs) with a value of $1.48 billion (USD).

Fishery independent state and federal surveys leave no doubt that there have been real and dramatic increases in abundance.

While the 2016 landings are still being tallied, if Maine’s impressive performance is any indication (Maine harvests about 80% of the US share), 2016 is likely to go down as another banner year both in volume and value.

By all indications, the reproductive output of the American lobster population should be greater than ever, but for some reason it does not seem to be translating into record breaking settlement.

This ALSI Update adds 2016’s settlement numbers to our continuing time series of diver–based and bio–collector-based sampling in New England and Atlantic Canada.

In this update we also feature an analysis led by Joshua Carloni, of New Hampshire’s Dept. of Fish & Game, to take a closer look at what might be behind the puzzling disconnect between what should be record–breaking larval production and the paltry settlement …

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