Free Press interviews Steneck, Bayer about changes to Maine’s lobster industry

The Free Press spoke with University of Maine researchers Bob Steneck and Bob Bayer for an article about Maine’s lobster industry and how it has changed over the years. Steneck, a professor of marine sciences who specializes in lobster and urchin research, said that although temperature may play a role in many of the changes, it may be subtle. “The Gulf of Maine is a highly dynamic ecosystem,” said Steneck, noting many of the changes we see today have historical roots in the overfishing of cod, which goes back centuries. Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute, said warmer water temperatures may not necessarily be bad news. “Look at Prince Edward Island,” Bayer said, adding it has naturally warm water. “They have small lobsters with eggs. It’s a sustainable fishery.” Big lobsters are big breeders, according to Steneck. A five- to six-pound female lobster can produce as many eggs as 20 one-and-a-half-pound lobsters, he said. “There is a huge breeding population now,” said Bayer, adding the limits on breeding mean there is safety built in to create a sustainable fishery. Those practices have helped create a sustainable fishery, according to Steneck, who, along with Bayer, sees no indication that lobsters themselves are in decline. Lobsters, both men said, are resilient, versatile, and mobile.