The Politic interviews Wahle about effect of climate change on lobsters

Rick Wahle was a source for a piece in The Politic about the impact of climate change on lobsters in Long Island Sound, where the crustacean population has reached historically low levels, and continues to dip. In 1998, Long Island Sound fisheries hauled in 3.7 million pounds of lobster. In 2015, they yielded 200,000 pounds. In 1975, the average winter temperature recorded off the New London coast was 36.5 degrees F; in the winter of 2012, it was a record-high average temperature of 45 degrees F. In addition, unsustainably low oxygen levels caused by pollution-driven algal blooms have impacted the Sound for decades, according to the story. Regulations have been put in place to try to preserve young lobsters and reproducing females so the adult lobster population will stabilize in subsequent generations. Wahle, a professor at the University of Maine and director of the Lobster Institute, said it takes lobsters from five to nine years to grow into the fisheries. Wahle helped develop the American Lobster Settlement Index (ALSI) to leverage data on lobster eggs and larvae to predict future lobster populations from southern New England to Canada. “We’ve developed a multi-dimensional tool to see how southern New England and the Gulf of Maine might respond to future climate changes,” he said. Changes in the food web, shell disease and ecological factors are included. “[We] bring the fishing industry and other stakeholders like fishery managers together with the talent at the University of Maine to address industry and fishery priorities. Data allow researchers, policymakers, and fisheries to decide on targets and caps before it is too late.” Undark also quoted Wahle in a report on the same topic titled, “Ghost fishing off Long Island’s coast.”