Wahle, Bayer speak with BDN about low value of Maine’s lobster catch

Rick Wahle, a research professor in the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences, and Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at UMaine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for the article, “Maine lobster catch on track to hit lowest value this decade.” Due to an unfavorable combination of a dwindling catch and falling prices, the statewide lobster haul for this year could plummet below 100 million pounds for the first time since 2010 — a decrease of more than 30 million pounds from 2016, according to the president of Maine Lobstermen’s Association. Scientists are puzzled by the disparity between the decreasing number of young lobsters settling on the ocean bottom and the increase in the number of harvest-size lobsters showing up in lobster traps, according to the article. “We’re calling it The Great Disconnect,” Wahle said. Continued warming could reduce lobster survival throughout the Gulf of Maine, the article states. If fewer lobsters are surviving to the settlement stage, their food sources could also be shifting farther north outside the Gulf or they’re falling victim to more predators such as black sea bass, Wahle said. Additionally, the increasing occurrence of shell disease could be adversely affecting reproduction rates. “We’re not at all at a steady state with this fishery,” Wahle said. However, Bayer said there is still plenty of fishing yet to be done this fall, and many fishermen are throwing back a lot of lobsters just under the minimum legal harvest size. “They’re still catching loads of small lobsters,” Bayer said. “I think it may be a one-year thing, but it is hard to tell.”