The National Sea Grant College Program was enacted by U.S. Congress in 1966 (amended in 2020, Public Law 116-221) to support leveraged federal and state partnerships that harness the intellectual capacity of the nation’s universities and research institutions to solve problems and generate opportunities in coastal communities.
The American lobster (Homarus americanus) and its fishery are facing a time of significant complexity and uncertainty with far-reaching ecological and economic impacts. In 2021, the American lobster fishery landed 134 million pounds worth approximately 920 million dollars.
In Maine, where approximately eighty-percent of the commercially harvested lobster are landed, the value of the 2021 harvest set a record but there is cause for concern. While the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s 2020 stock assessment indicated record high stock abundance in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, analyses of landing data from the state of Maine show a downward trend from a high in 2016 of 132 million pounds to an average annual 102 million pounds from 2019 to 2021. As ecosystem changes persist, the Gulf of Maine warms at a rapid rate, and southern New England continues to experience low abundance and recruitment failure, it is imperative that research, data, observations, and application are needed to understand and inform the current state and also prepare for the future state of the American Lobster fishery.
The American Lobster fishery’s sustainability relies not only on the ecological understanding of the species but also the economic resiliency of the industry. Expanding uses of the marine environment such as offshore wind energy development and regulatory uncertainties related to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (FR–210827–0171) have introduced the potential for significant socio-economic impacts to the lobster industry. These changes affect how and where the lobster industry operates, placing additional pressures on fishing communities and a continued need to understand the biological and human dimensions of this significant fishery. Research approaches that examine the social, behavioral, and economic implications of and adaptations to ecosystem and/or regulatory changes are important to enhance community resiliency and fill a knowledge gap for resource managers in need of research and data to inform integrated approaches to complex marine issues.
In FY23, consistent with its mission to enhance practical use and conservation in order to create a sustainable economy and environment, Sea Grant’s American Lobster Research Program will fund projects that address priority research needs to enhance our understanding of and address impacts to this significant, complex and dynamic fishery. Projects that involve partnerships among industry, State agencies, and/or academia, including but not limited to co-production and cooperative research, are strongly encouraged.
Deadline: May 10, 2023