Long Island Sound Lobster Initiative

The situation

Long Island Sound lobstersSince Fall 1999, the state of the Long Island Sound lobster fishery has been in question. Lobsters have been experiencing unprecedented outbreaks of disease that have resulted in massive mortalities, particularly in the Sound's western basin. At the same time, lobsters in the eastern Sound have been suffering from "shell disease," a bacterial infection that has been around for awhile but appears to have greatly increased.

So, what's the cause of the western Sound's die-offs? There are many possible factors that could have contributed to declines on an ecosystem-wide basis. These environmental, physiological, and biological stresses include: water quality conditions including elevated temperature and changes in salinity, environmental conditions such as storm events, pollution, lobster crowding, disease-causing organisms, and pesticides.

"Our hope is that research from this cooperative initiative will ultimately provide evidence to select the real causes among the many potential causes of the lobster mortalities," says former New York Sea Grant Assistant Director Cornelia Schlenk.

The response

Sea Grant programs in New York and Connecticut, along with our affiliates, are providing the latest on lobster-related health concerns. Our aim is to better inform decision-makers, connect with researchers studying probable causes, and educate reporters and the interested public searching for answers.

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