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Guest Column: We need good research to adapt to inevitable change

Synthesize current literature and studies which investigate the connectivity between the GOM/GBK stock and Canada:

The motion calls for a synthesis of existing scientific literature which investigates the connection between the GOM/GBK stocks and Canadian stocks. While there are differences in the management approach among Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions, there is clearly a mutual interest in sustaining lobster populations. Reviewing the literature will help establish a baseline from which the U.S. and Canada can work toward developing a coordinated approach to managing and sustaining this shared resource.

Plot changes in size distribution of egg-bearing females over time in the GOM/GBK stock:

The Technical Committee will also review changes in the size at which lobsters become mature in the GOM/GBK. This information can help managers understand the impact of factors like temperature and harvesting effort on size distribution.

Describe changes in GOM ocean currents and how this could be affecting larval supply patterns:

Ocean currents within the Gulf of Maine will also be examined to assess how they impact important indicators of health like larval settlement. The more we know about larval settlement the better prepared we are to protect young of the year and thus predict the future of this fishery.

Investigate the stock-recruit relationship in the GOM/GBK stock:

The relationship between spawning stock and recruits in the GOM/GBK will be evaluated. This relationship between the abundance of parent stock and the eventual recruitment resulting from spawning activity provides an important biological indicator for managers.

Review on-going research on GOM lobster in order to identify research holes and prioritize the importance of these data holes to effective management:

It is critical that we identify and target missing research. It is important to improve and synthesize existing research, but it is also necessary to identify research that does not exist yet is necessary to accomplish management objectives.

Examine the competing biological management measures between Area 1, 3 and the Outer Cape Cod to look at the benefits of harmonizing these measures:

Differing biological measures among Areas 1, 3 and the Outer Cape Cod Management Area will be reviewed to determine if they should and can be made consistent. As an example, each area has a different definition of a v-notch. Consistent management measures can potentially make sense in areas with the same stock.

Investigate and develop a Traffic Light Analysis:

The motion also asked the Technical Committee to investigate and develop a Traffic Light Analysis as a commonsense way to incorporate existing indicators into management of the GOM/GBK stock. A Traffic Light Analysis includes a combination of economic and biological indices. It provides a graphical interpretation that simplifies analysis of multiple, complex indicators and their relationships to each other and a larger management plan.

The Traffic Light Analysis for the GOM/GBK lobster stock will incorporate average harvest and abundance values over the past 10 years. It will also include indices like the settlement and ventless trap surveys, trawl survey data, landing information, and other indices as recommended by the Technical Committee.

By advancing a more focused and sophisticated approach to research for GOM/GBK lobster, I hoped to ensure that interstate managers have the tools to foresee and prevent the kinds of management issues that contributed to the collapse of the SNE lobster stock.

Change will happen. We need to have the tools in place to adapt.

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