State won’t use researchers’ model to predict lobster decline, Press Herald reports

The Portland Press Herald reported the Maine Department of Marine Resources is questioning the reliability of a new study that predicts a sharp decline in Gulf of Maine lobsters over the next 30 years. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, University of Maine and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration built a computer model that predicts the population will fall 40 to 62 percent by 2030, according to the article. But the commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources said he won’t use the model to help him decide how to manage the state’s most valuable fishery, the article states. A state spokesman said the commissioner doesn’t question the science of the model but sees the tool as unreliable because lobsters are a “wild resource,” the Associated Press reported, citing the Press Herald story. Rick Wahle, a UMaine research professor who has studied lobster decline, said a goal of science is to be able to use all the tools at your disposal to analyze as much data as you can collect to predict the behavior of the thing that you are studying. “Nobody says we have a crystal ball,” he said. “We used the most cutting-edge modeling tools available to try to study the impact of increasing water temperature, predators and disease.” U.S. News & World Report, WABI (Channel 5) and The Seattle Times carried the AP article.