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Outlook For Southern New England Lobsters Is Dire

Lori Mack
Lobster fisherman Bart Mansi, above, thinks ocean predators are driving a dramatic decline of lobsters in Southern New England.

Lobster populations in Southern New England are in dramatic decline and recovery is not likely to happen anytime soon.

That's according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission -- an interstate compact, which manages fisheries in the region.

A 2015 assessment by that group showed record lows.

On Tuesday, the commission considered a number of management options to boost lobster egg production, but agreed nearly uniformly that rebuilding populations of Southern New England Lobster was unlikely.

“We’re seeing warmer waters and lobsters are very sensitive to temperature,” said Megan Ware, the group’s fishery management plan coordinator. “So it could be that we’re hitting that thermal threshold for them, and they’re moving to colder waters.” 

Ware said her organization also observed a possible increase in the number of lobster predators. “They could be eating the juvenile lobsters -- and that would, certainly, hurt the population,” she said. “And then we do have continued fishing, so that’s another source of mortality for the lobsters.”

Bart Mansi, a lobster fisherman who works in Long Island Sound and runs a food business in Guilford, said he doesn’t think lobster traps are the problem. He thinks it’s more predators in the ocean.

“Just talk to the guys that come in, that go out there and catch striped bass, that go out and catch sea bass,” Mansi said. “And ask them -- when they open them up, when they clean them out -- ask them what’s in their stomach. I had three guys down here yesterday for lunch telling me when they opened up the sea bass -- one sea bass had over 10 baby lobsters in it.”

Mansi said more fishing regulations will hurt the small group of lobstermen still working in southern New England.

Lori Connecticut Public's Morning Edition host.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.
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