Effort Management in the Maine Lobster Fishery
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The Maine lobster fishery is one of the most economically valuable fisheries in the United States. In 2010 the fishery brought in a record 93 million pounds of lobster and was valued at nearly $310 million. Annual catch has risen steadily over the last seventy years as a result of both good conservation practices and increasing effort in the fishery. The fishery is an extremely valuable resource for the state of Maine and the entire Northeast region. However, current research suggests that the fishery may have reached a point of overcapacity and that catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) is not being maximized, thus resulting in lost productivity. Conflicts over excessive effort have been prevalent at the local, state, and interstate levels of management. There are environmental, social, and economic costs associated with excessive effort, but several proposals for effort management have been rejected by the industry and its managers. Effort management regulations that were established as part of the 1995 co-management law have been largely ineffective, and recent surveys have indicated that the majority of lobstermen are concerned about the number of traps fished in their areas. There is substantial anecdotal and experimental evidence supporting the need for effort reduction in the fishery, yet very little progress has been made toward achieving such a reduction. The objective of this report is to use official landings and effort data collected by Maine’s Department of Marine Resources to assess the nature and extent of the excessive effort problem in the Maine lobster fishery. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the biological and economic status of the fishery. The analysis is used to assess the need for an effort reduction plan and to identify specific barriers to achieving effort reduction. Short-term and long-term recommendations are provided.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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