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Maine DMR Awards Grants to Support Lobster Research

The Department of Marine Resources in July awarded six grants for research programs that will contribute to improved understanding of lobster habitat, stock assessment, monitoring, impacts of management actions on the fishery, and how those can be integrated in a way that informs future management. The Department made the awards totaling $340,000 from the Lobster Research, Education, and Development (RED) Fund. The projects were solicited through a request for proposals which sought research initiatives that take a collaborative approach toward improved science for the lobster fishery. “Maine’s lobster industry is our most valuable fishery and is a critical piece of the economy of nearly every community along the coast,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “We know that change is happening in the Gulf of Maine and we want to be positioned with improved science to adapt to those changes.” UMaine Marine Science Professor Yong Chen was awarded $75,000 over two years to develop scientific models that will project climate-driven changes in lobster distribution and habitat, and improve the ability of regulators to assess and manage lobster. Chen received an additional $40,000 to evaluate the ability of current DMR monitoring programs, including the ventless trap survey and the settlement survey, to capture distribution shifts of lobster in the Gulf of Maine over time. Finally, Chen was awarded $75,000 to use computer simulations to evaluate and quantify the impacts of conservation measures used in the management of Maine lobster such as size limits and V-notching. This study will also include an analysis of how changing ocean temperatures impact the effectiveness of these conservation measures. UMaine Marine Science Professor Robert Steneck received $10,000 to complement a Maine Sea Grant-funded project that will evaluate the relationship between lobster populations and habitat along Maine coast by assessing lobster larvae settlement, kelp forests, and the near-shore density of legal size and sublegal size lobsters. UMaine Professor Richard Wahle was awarded $40,000 to study and develop a computer simulation that describes the relationship between lobster larvae and zooplankton over time throughout the Gulf of Maine. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) was awarded $80,000 to develop a suite of indicators that show how lobster habitat and the Gulf of Maine ecosystem are changing spatially and over time, and to evaluate how those indicators may affect lobster populations. Nick Record, senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Jeff Runge, research scientist at GMRI, Eric Annis, biology professor at Hood College, and Damian Brady, assistant research science professor at UMaine, will each receive $5,000 to contribute additional expertise and data from their own research on a range of related issues.

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