ELLSWORTH — The University of Maine Sea Grant Program will host a four-day, international conference on the status of the lobster fishery.
The program, “The American Lobster in a Changing Ecosystem: A U.S.-Canada Science Symposium,” is scheduled to be held Tuesday, Nov. 27, through Friday, Nov. 30, at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland.
The status of the American lobster over the last decade has been a story of contrasts. While lobster landings 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.
Aiming to promote broad dialogue among academic, industry and government researchers from both sides of the border, the event will feature more than 80 scientific talks and posters on four main themes: anthropogenic and environmental stressors; food web dynamics; human-natural systems and ecosystem-based management; and population connectivity.
Rick Wahle, a research associate professor at the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, will co-chair the conference with Andrea Battison of the University of Prince Edward Island and Paul Anderson of Maine Sea Grant.
“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 said.
Jeff Shields of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will give a presentation on stressors and diseases. Robert Steneck of the University of Maine will focus on the changing food web. Michael Fogarty of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will give a presentation on the human dimensions of ecosystem-based management. Lew Incze of the university’s School of Marine Sciences will speak on the connections between Atlantic lobster populations.
Sessions will include an opportunity for those attending the symposium 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,” Battison said.
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, visit www.seagrant.umaine.edu/lobster-symposium.