Feds order reduction in LIS lobster catch
Connecticut’s few remaining lobstermen have been warning for months that cutting the number of lobsters they’re able to take out of Long Island Sound would just about doom what’s left of their industry, but the feds have done it anyway.
The American Lobster Management Board voted this week to cut the permitted lobster catch in southern New England waters by 10 percent, part of a desperate effort to restore rapidly declining stocks of this once plentiful shellfish.
According to the agency’s press release, the decision was a response to “low levels of abundance” of lobsters, which it said are “experiencing persistent low recruitment caused by a combination of environmental factors and continued fishing mortality.”
The catch reduction would be accomplished by increasing the minimum size of the lobsters that can be legally taken from the Sound.
Experts say rising water temperature in the Sound in recent decades have left the lobster population more vulnerable to diseases that have triggered major die-offs in recent years.
Connecticut lobstermen insist that part of the problem is the pesticides that New York is spraying along the coast to keep down mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus.
Lobster experts from the states covered by the new restrictions have until Dec. 24 to submit plans for carrying out the catch reduction. The federal board warned that even steeper reductions could be ordered in the future if this move doesn’t start to bring lobster populations back.
So few lobsters are now being caught in Long Island Sound that few restaurants and fish markets along the Connecticut shoreline even sell locally harvested lobsters, preferring to import the shellfish from Maine or Canada.
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