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Tue May 19, 2020, 08:14 AM

Maine Lobster Fishery Knows End Is Near - Gulf Of Maine Warming Faster Than Almost Anywhere Else


Baines is among the latest of 19 veteran lobstermen along the Maine coast who are applying their hard-earned expertise to kelp farming. It’s boom time for lobster in Maine – 2019 was the fourth most profitable year in the history of an industry that accounts for $1bn dollars in state revenue, second only to tourism. But a variety of factors, most of which can be traced to climate change, have left lobstermen more vulnerable than ever.

The lobster industry’s unprecedented growth may sound like a good thing, but the cause of it is alarming. According to a 2015 Science magazine study, the Gulf of Maine is heating up faster than 99% of the world’s oceans. This, in addition to proactive conservation efforts implemented over the years, has accounted for the flourishing of the lobster population; lobster are thriving in the slightly warmer waters. But lobstermen know better than to celebrate. All they need to do is look at what happened in the early 2000s in places like Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Long Island Sound, where once-robust lobster fisheries have become commercially extinct due to the continually warming waters.

“I think we have a long time before that happens in Maine,” says Susie Arnold, a marine scientist at Maine’s Island Institute, who works with fishermen to diversify their businesses by including aquaculture, like kelp farming. “But the changes that are occurring are undeniable.” Those changes aren’t good, but kelp farming has the potential for environmental good. “The ocean is a sponge for carbon dioxide,” says Nichole Price, senior research scientist and director of the Center for Seafood Solutions at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine. Carbon dioxide is the cause of ocean acidification, one of the myriad stressors responsible for destroying coral reefs and preventing mollusks from building their shells. Price has found evidence that sugar kelp has an especially high capacity for absorbing CO2 and thus lowering the acidity of the surrounding water. Investing in kelp farming now could potentially benefit marine life in the future.

“The Maine coast is almost all lobster now, and it didn’t used to be that way,” says Baines, who has a close-cropped white beard, chiseled cheekbones and hazel eyes so deep-set that it often looks like he’s squinting. “When I was a teenager, in summertimes I worked in a lobster boat that went long-lining for ground fish – cod, haddock, hake – that were dominant in the Gulf of Maine.” The way Baines says “cod” sounds more like “caught”, as one might expect of a New Jersey native who spent his childhood summers in Maine and has lived his adult life here. While Baines still goes out scalloping and sometimes fishes for halibut, most Maine lobstermen these days rely entirely on lobster to survive. If it’s a bad year for lobster, it’s a very bad year for lobstermen. And, in general, profit margins are lower than they were years ago, due to fuel costs and the rising price of bait and gear, in addition to regulations placed on lobster fishing by the federal government to protect the endangered right whale. Federal restrictions due to the trade war with China and the economic fallout caused by Covid-19 have further devastated their bottom line.



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Reply Maine Lobster Fishery Knows End Is Near - Gulf Of Maine Warming Faster Than Almost Anywhere Else (Original post)
hatrack May 19 OP
bronxiteforever May 19 #1

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2020, 08:59 AM

1. Kick and recommend.

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