Wednesday, 23 May 2018 10:38

Collins, King asking researchers to explore changing water temperatures' effect on lobsters Featured

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TENANTS HARBOR - Here in Maine, one can find lobster-themed paraphernalia, ranging from lobster-shaped bottle openers to lobster slippers. Now, a report from the Gulf of Maine research institute says warmer water could drive lobsters further from the traditional fishing grounds.

"This has been building up for the last couple of years. But I think one of the triggering events was we'd just learned that the water coming in from the north that normally cools is 11 degrees warmer than normal this year," Senator Angus King, I-Maine, said.


According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the lobster harvest for 2017 dropped by nearly $100 million. But at least one lobsterman said many people are still catching a lot of lobsters.


"You know, the science isn't exact. It's still a guessing game in part. But right now, I don't know," Tenants Harbor lobsterman Dan Miller said.


Maine's United States senators recently joined other federal lawmakers in asking National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers to analyze the lobster migration issue.


"I first became concerned about [it] when I started hearing from fishermen and lobstermen that the species they were seeing was changing," Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, said.


Since the 1990s, according to Bloomberg News, Maine's lobster fishermen have been in the midst of the so-called 'Great Lobster Boom.' There are signs lobsters may be migrating to colder waters.


Some of those working their nets off the Gulf of Maine, however, say it is unlikely that bells are tolling the death of the state's largest fishing industry.


Miller is among them.


"You know, the spring hasn't been that good. But that doesn't always carry for the whole year," he said. "Sometimes you have a poor spring and you have a really good summer or fall. I've been doing this on and off for a long time and there's been times when people have been on the edge. And there's been times when they've been doing really well."


Still, colder water temperatures can pose issues for the fisheries, King noted.


"That could create very significant changes. The Gulf of Maine is warming up faster than any other body of water on the face of the Earth except for the arctic ocean," he said. "I'm very concerned that some of the species we've taken for granted in Maine could be greatly diminished in numbers."


Senators Collins and King agree that it is critical to take steps to protect the state's lobster industry.


Today, however, scientific surveys show the resource is in good shape for several years to come.


TJ Tremble

Assistant News Director/Reporter
[email protected]

T.J. Tremble joined WVII ABC 7 and WFVX FOX 22 in March 2016.

He was raised in Bangor, attended Bangor schools and graduated from John Bapst High School. He attended the University of Maine, s...