DMR Lobster Research Collaborative: Top Five Lobster Research Priorities

The Maine Department of Marine Resources created the Lobster Research Collaborative (LRC) in 2018 and concluded this collaborative effort in 2020. The LRC started in 2018 when DMR awarded $340,000 from the Lobster Research, Education, and Development Fund to support six research projects that take a collaborative approach toward improved science for the lobster fishery. The research projects focused on lobster distribution, shifts in lobster habitat and the changing environment. With revenues from the sale of Maine lobster license plates, the Research Education and Development Board provides funding for research that supports Maine’s lobster industry. Since 2018, the LRC has met quarterly to share research updates and discuss research and industry issues of the day. Each meeting attracted over 50 researchers, students, fishery managers, and industry members. DMR is grateful to Maine Sea Grant for providing facilitation support for all meetings.

The final meeting featured two-year research project updates, a summary of the 2020 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission stock assessment report, and a group discussion to rank future lobster research priorities. In preparation for this priority-ranking exercise, meeting participants were asked to submit research topics to represent the most pressing lobster research questions and data gaps. During the meeting, participants were then given the chance to rank (low to high priority) all submitted topics and discuss the results. The following topics received the five highest rankings from meeting participants:

  1. Develop collaborations with industry to design information products, future priorities, and strategies for the fishery
  2. Foster and provide funding mechanisms for lobstermen-scientists research projects
  3. Changes in lobster habitat use and interactions with the footprint of the fishery
  4. Sub-lethal effects of climate change (specifically ocean acidification and warming)
  5. Larval biology (behavior, distribution, movement patterns)

There was consensus among meeting participants that meaningful research collaborations with each sector of the lobster industry are crucial to the success of lobster research in support of fishery management. Participants also highlighted the need to understand the complex impacts of climate change on all lobster life stages and the Maine fishery. These priorities can be used to inform the development of lobster research projects, funding opportunities, and collaborations. Final project reports summarizing the results of the six LRC funded works will be available in 2021.

To learn more about LRC funded research or future directions, please contact Jesica Waller.