Arctic Warming and the Lobster Fishery

Understanding the implications of rapid Arctic warming on the lobster fishery.

Arctic warming and melting sea ice are altering ocean circulation patterns in the Northwest Atlantic, affecting the distribution and abundance of lobster — an important fishery resource for many coastal communities. Working with multiple institutions in the US and Canada, this project will improve models of oceanographic conditions, the lobster population, and fishing fleets to provide information for the fishing industry and communities as they adapt to climate-driven changes.

Project Goals:

  • Evaluate, model, and forecast how changes in the Arctic will affect ocean circulation and ocean conditions at lower latitudes.
  • Model and forecast impacts of Arctic changes on the American lobster population, economic strategies in the fishery, and well-being of fishing communities.
  • Build science-industry and cross-border partnerships to evaluate how the fishery and coastal communities can effectively adapt to change at various spatial and temporal scales.

Warming ocean waters and melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean are altering ocean circulation patterns and oceanographic conditions at lower latitudes in the Northwest Atlantic. These Arctic changes may have direct implications on the lobster fishery, the most valuable single-species fishery in the United States. This project will link the impacts of Arctic oceanographic changes on primary and secondary productivity with changes in the distribution and productivity of the lobster population in waters of the Northeast U.S. and Maritimes Canada.

We will develop a model to understand the influence of changing ocean temperatures, currents, and other environmental conditions on the abundance and distribution of the lobster population. To evaluate resiliency within the lobster fishery and dependent communities, population model outputs will be incorporated into a bioeconomic model to simulate spatial and temporal changes in fishing effort and evaluate the economic outcomes and adaptation strategies in the fishery. Further, socioeconomic indicators will be developed to enable the industry, communities, and managers to track resilience of the lobster fishery and its participants.

The project will draw heavily upon science-industry collaborations and cross-border partnerships to inform the modeling components, provide input on scenarios that are evaluated, and shape delivery of information to users in industry, community, and management arenas. The project will also provide opportunities for multiple graduate students and postdoctoral associates to gain experience in a highly transdisciplinary, collaborative research endeavor.

GMRI Project Team

External Project Partners

University of Maine

  • Richard Wahle (co-PI)
    Damian Brady
    Joshua Stoll
    Christine Beitl
    Heather Leslie
    Andrew Goode
    Chrstine Cash
    Natalie Springuel

Columbia University

  • Joaquim Goes
    Helga Gomes
    Marco Tedesco
    Patrick Alexander

Florida State University

  • Eric Chassignet
    Michael Stukel
    Xiaobiao Xu

Memorial University

  • Arnault Le Bris

Project Sponsor

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2220566.

Read More