UMaine-Based Maine Sea Grant to Host Lobster Symposium

The status of the American lobster over the last decade is a story of contrasts. While lobster numbers from the Gulf of Maine northward have climbed to historic highs, southern New England has been plagued by disease and mass mortality. Coastal communities in Atlantic Canada and Maine are more dependent on the lobster fishery than ever before. Yet, for the first time, southern New England harvesters face the prospect of a moratorium on lobster fishing.

To what extent has the American lobster been affected by the fundamental changes that have occurred over the past few decades in the climate and food web of the Northwest Atlantic, as well as the economics of seafood?

This question and others will be addressed at “The American Lobster in a Changing Ecosystem: A U.S.-Canada Science Symposium,” which will be held Nov. 27–30 at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, Maine.

Aiming to promote broad dialogue among academic, industry and government researchers on both sides of the border, the event will feature more than 80 scientific talks and posters on four main themes:  anthropogenic and environmental stressors; foodweb dynamics; human-natural systems and ecosystem-based management; and population connectivity.

Rick Wahle, a research associate professor in UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, is co-chairing the conference along with Andrea Battison of the University of Prince Edward Island and Paul Anderson of Maine Sea Grant. Wahle envisions the symposium as a forum to examine Homarus americanus in the context of its changing environment.

“We hope this event will be a space for researchers to share new findings, identify region-wide research gaps and priorities, and catalyze new collaborations,” Wahle says.

The conference themes will be introduced by prominent figures in the world of lobster fisheries: Jeff Shields of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will present on stressors and diseases; Robert Steneck of UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences on the changing foodweb;. Michael Fogarty of the National Marine Fisheries Service on the human dimensions of ecosystem-based management, and Lew Incze of UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences on the connections between Atlantic lobster populations. Sessions will conclude with an opportunity for symposium attendees to participate in open, moderated discussions about each theme. “We’ve had a great response from lobster researchers, which highlights the need for such a symposium at this time. We are looking forward to an informative event for idea exchange,” says Battison.

The symposium is open to the public with a $130 registration fee. The fee for students is $80.

For more information about the symposium, including the schedule and registration information, go to

Contact: Rick Wahle, 207.841.7723 or; Catherine Schmitt, 207.581.1434 or