R-06-04 Developing and evaulating biological reference points for the american lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery management

Yong Chen
218 Libby Hall
School of Marine Sciences
University of Maine
Orono , ME 04469

The American lobster supports the most valuable commercial fishery in the northeastern U.S., and the fishery is critical to the Maine economy. Landings have increased steadily since the early 1970s and fishing effort is intense and increasing throughout the species' range. Current stock assessment methods suggest that the Gulf of Maine stock is overexploited and vulnerable to collapse. Yet other studies and field observations suggest otherwise. The inconsistency demands a new approach to lobster population assessment.

This project developed biomass-based and mortality-based biological reference points to determine if the lobster fishery was being overfished. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission adopted Chen's model for determining the status of lobster fisheries, and the health of lobster stocks. The model was first used in the 2009 assessment.

2-year project, 2006-2008 

Total Sea Grant funds: $79,293

Associated presentations and publications

Chen, Y.  2008. Testing biological reference points for the GOM lobster fishery. Subset of ASMFC Lobster Stock Assessment Committee, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, January 14, Portland, ME.

Schmitt, C. 2008. Taking stock. UMaine Today magazine, November/December 2008.

Zhang, Y. and Chen, Y. 2007. Modeling and evaluating ecosystem in 1980s and 1990s for American lobster (Homarus americanus) in the Gulf of Maine. Ecological Modeling 203: 475-489.

Zhang, Y., Chen, Y., and Kanaiwa, M. 2007. Developing and evaluating biological reference points for the Gulf of Maine American lobster fishery management. 137th American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, September 2-6, San Francisco, CA.

For a full list of publications associated with research projects, please visit our Journal Reprints page.