For nearly 50 years, the MLA had advocated for expanding research on lobster stocks and developing cooperative research projects in order to integrate fishermen’s vast knowledge of the ocean and lobster resource. MLA members have pioneered many collaborative research projects working with university, government and independent scientists on a variety of research projects.
In 1982, the MLA began collecting data on the number of v-notched lobsters present in traps to measure the impact of this conservation program on the lobster population.
The survey takes place in early October each year. During any two days of the survey week, lobstermen record the number of females, eggers, V-notch, short and oversize females on a data card. The results from this survey are used to track the effectiveness of v-notching as a conservation measure to protect lobster brood stock in the Gulf of Maine. The information is kept by the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) and is available to scientists and managers.
North Atlantic Right Whales
MLA has conducted several projects in collaboration with the Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction to identify potential fishing practices that would mitigate risk to whales from lobster gear. The MLA worked with fishermen to document the range of commercial fishing methods practiced in the Maine lobster industry, identify current fishing methods that might pose the least risk to whales, and identify innovative fishing gears and techniques that may reduce whale entanglement risk and severity. This information has been published in the Lobster pot gear configuration report.
In addition, MLA has collaborated with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to involve the Maine lobster industry to develop a model that reflects the risk of Maine lobster gear to whales along the Maine coast.
Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance
The MLA has worked with our sister, non-profit organization, the Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance (MLCA) on many projects. In April 2016 the MLA and MLCA, along with the Island Institute and the State of Maine, hosted lobster veterinarian Dr. Jean Lavellee as he traveled the coast talking about lobster quality. The Happy Healthy Lobster Tour returns in March of 2017 visiting every zone as well as islands. Sponsored this year in conjunction with The State of Maine and Stonington Co-op, Swans Island Co-op, Cranberry Isles Co-op, Beals-Jonesport Co-op, Tenents Harbor Co-op and Port Clyde Co-op, the tour is expected to reach hundreds of people working the lobster supply chain.
Maine Lobster Leadership Institute returns in 2017 as well. This educational opportunity is provided to young lobstermen to give them an opportunity to learn about the industry as a whole. Workshops and travel are a big piece of the program with trips to the Boston Seafood Show, Prince Edward Island and aquaculture farms to name a few. The program is expected to run again in 2018 and 2019.
Past projects with MLCA include Inshore Herring Acoustic Survey, and whale entanglement research.
For more information on the MLCA, visit their website at www.mlcalliance.org.