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NOAA -- National Sea Grant American Lobster Research Program
The American lobster (Homarus americanus) is one of the most iconic modern American fisheries and total U.S. landings of lobster have steadily increased over the past 35 years. Today, the ex-vessel value of the American lobster fishery is estimated at roughly $666.7 million and represents one of the largest and most valuable fisheries along the Atlantic coast. In 2015, the American lobster fishery represented the highest landed value in the nation.
Rising ocean temperatures have caused global fish population distribution shifts, and studies suggest warming temperatures may also directly impact the migration, growth, maturity, and natural mortality of American lobster. Of equal concern are potential impacts to lobster larval mortality due to ecosystem and food web changes. Lobster habitat is also changing, although the degree to which is unknown.
These changes present threats to the American lobster fishery in the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and southern New England. Although lobster populations and landings in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank have been increasing since the late 1990s, young-of-year surveys began showing declines in 2012. The state of Maine, where more than seventy-five percent of lobsters harvested in the US were landed in 2017, continued to see lobster landings decrease below the five-year average in October of 2019. Gaps in scientific knowledge and economic uncertainties, such as recent regulatory adjustments regarding Atlantic herring, a primary bait for lobster, continue to drive the need for research to enhance understanding and investigate how these factors impact the American Lobster fishery.
This program will support research to address critical gaps in knowledge about how the American Lobster and its fishery is being impacted by environmental change. It is informed by listening sessions with regional fishing industry stakeholders, state and federal fisheries managers, and university, state and federal fisheries researchers.
Research topics suitable for study on American lobster under this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) should have a geographic focus on the Gulf of Maine, Georges Banks, and/or southern New England and address one or more of the following: (1) Increased understanding of life history parameters, including but not limited to, growth, maturity, and species interactions; (2) Larval ecology and early biology; (3) Spatial distribution and migration, including but not limited to, habitat and trophic interactions; and/or (4) socio-ecological investigations to inform future management decisions, including but not limited to, research exploring bait alternatives to herring and their implications for the lobster fishery.
Deadline: Mar. 19, 2020
The following entities are eligible and encouraged to participate in this funding opportunity: any individual; any public or private corporation, partnership, or other association or entity (including any Sea Grant College, Sea Grant Institute or other institution); or any State, political subdivision of a State, Tribal government or agency or officer thereof. Federal agencies and their personnel are not permitted to receive federal funding under this competition; however, federal scientists and other employees can serve as uncompensated partners or co-Principal Investigators on applications. Federal labs and offices can also make available specialized expertise, facilities or equipment to applicants but cannot be compensated under this competition for their use, nor can the value of such assets be used as match.
Subject to the availability of funding, this announcement describes how eligible applicants should apply for NOAA-OAR-SG-2020-2006355. Sea Grant anticipates funding between five to ten research projects totaling between $1 million and $2 million dollars. The duration of proposed projects must not exceed two years.