Click here to view an retrospective of Lobster Institute history. History of Lobster Institute 1987-2012 (PDF)
The Lobster Institute focuses on sustaining the American lobster resource (Homarus americanus) and a viable lobster fishery. Our core functions include conservation, outreach, research and education.
In 1987 the Lobster Institute was created through the unified efforts of five original stakeholders – the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, the Maine Pound Owners Association, the Maine Import/Export Dealer’s Association and the University of Maine. Over the years they have been joined by a number of industry and community supporters – who believe in the Institute’s research, educational programs and public awareness activities designed to ensure and enhance the resource and to maintain a strong, healthy industry. While based in Maine, the Institute boasts a Board of Advisors with representatives from all industry sectors, geographically spread from New York to Newfoundland. They understand this invaluable natural resource is the cornerstone to a vast structure of economically related businesses and culturally related lifestyles; and its protection is incumbent upon the industry itself and the communities and states that rely upon the lobster industry to thrive.
The Lobster Institute is viewed as the central clearinghouse for information and a vital communication link among lobster harvesters, dealers, pound owners, processors, scientists and resource managers industry-wide. It has adopted the ecosytem-management perspective of the fishermen, and realizes that lobstering in the Gulf of Maine is uniquely positioned as a healthy, sustainable fishery. It has initiated or supported research focusing on lobster health, biology, ecology, and economics; and has sponsored numerous conferences and seminars. It has become a trusted liaison between fishermen, researchers and the entire lobster industry.
Landings and the value of the American lobster catch have risen steadily in recent years. The total U.S. catch is harvested by over 10,000 lobstermen. Canada’s Maritime Provinces also have a thriving lobster fishery—and are the largest supplier of American lobster worldwide. The total economic impact of the lobster industry is estimated to be between 2.4 – 4 billion dollars.
The Lobster Institute is recognized by many worldwide as the source for information on and assistance with all things lobster. The Institute is committed to its charge as steward of this vital natural resource… the center of an industry that is so important to the economy and lifestyle of so many.
The Lobster Institute identifies practical problems of concern to the industry and seeks solutions to these problems. Some solutions may be found through quick-response projects, while others require long-term research programs. By indentifying the research priorities of the industry and providing industry assistance to researchers, the Institute links industry expertise with academic resources to promote a better understanding of the lobster and our impact on it.
Some research priorities of the Institute are projects on:
- Lobster ecology, biology, behavior, and population dynamics
- Anthopogenic influences
- Health and Disease
- Hatch and release/enhancement
- Marketing and economics
- New product development
Just soem of the Institute’s other research projects have included: V-notch surveys, claw band testing, ghost trap fishing impacts, lobster/fish farm interactions, genetics, industry opinion survey, taste tests on meat, and alternative bait.
The information generated through Institute-sponsored research programs is communicated freely in a variety of ways including outreach education conducted by faculty, students and industry members, as well as conferences, seminars, and workshops. The Institute also publishes its quarterly “Lobster Bulletin”.
The Institute is primarily funded by contributions from the industry itself, and through private donations by Friends of the Lobster Institute. Other funds and services are provided by the University of Maine, research granting agencies and institutions, and private foundations.
The Lobster Institute offers a wide range of educational programs.These include seminar programs and workshops for industry members and scientists throughout the region. The Institute also has an extensive lobster library with nearly 2000 journal articles, research reports, and informational pamphlets about lobsters.
The Lobster Institute seeks to serve the region’s lobster industry, and to provide its friends in the general public, who are interested in the industry and its future, with programs and information that are both timely and meaningful. If you are interested in learning more about the Lobster Institute and how you can support its goals and programs, or if you are seeking information about particular areas of interest, please feel free to contact us directly.