Assessing Industry's Perspective of State and Federal Management Regulations of the Maine Lobster Fishery

Wednesday, August 20, 2014: 8:40 AM
302A (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Ariadne Dimoulas , Marine Science, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Jocelyn Runnebaum , School of Marine Science, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Yong Chen , School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Strong industry supported management helps user groups prevent over exploitation of natural resources, potentially resulting in a self-regulated industry. Maine’s lobster industry, well known for setting the precedent with self-regulating conservation laws, historically was marked by opposition to developing more conservation laws, widespread violations of existing rules and community acceptance of law breakers. This “pirate ethic” gave way to a “conversation ethic” between the 1920s and 1930s, when, among other reasons, massive stock failure caused 40% of the lobster industry to go out of business. This led the industry to drastically change their attitude toward conservation measures. Currently lobster landings in Maine are rising, fuel and bait prices are similarly rising. This delicate balance between expenses and profits was challenged in 2012 when an early shed resulted in soft shell lobsters flooding the market, driving off the boat lobster per pound prices to a 40 year low. While it appears the industry recovered in the short-term it is unclear if today’s circumstances has caused a change in industry support for these longstanding conservation laws. The goal of this research is to evaluate the current opinions of lobster harvesters in the face of a changing industry and a changing ecosystem.