DMR hires new lobster scientist

Katherine Thompson

AUGUSTA — The Department of Marine Resources has hired a new scientist to lead its lobster sampling program.

Katherine Thompson, a Ph.D. student in marine biology at the University of Maine, will be responsible for the coordination, implementation and participation in the lobster sea sampling program in all seven of the state’s lobster management zones and will oversee the department’s juvenile lobster ventless trap survey. Thompson’s responsibilities will include supervision of DMR scientific staff and contractors who participate in those programs.

The sea sampling program places trained observers onto commercial lobster boats to gather data on the near shore lobster fishery. The ventless trap survey uses specially modified traps distributed along the coast to help the DMR characterize the juvenile lobster population in Maine waters.

Thompson will also manage the lobster research program database, oversee data entry compilation and annual summary statistics and reports for publication and will assist in writing grant reports. In addition, she will present survey results at lobster zone council meetings.

Thompson brings experience both in commercial fishing and fisheries research to her new position. Raised in a fishing family in New Harbor, Thompson served as a sternman for a Round Pond lobster fisherman during summers while she pursued a degree in biology from Smith College. The vessel she worked on participated in DMR’s ventless trap survey, providing her first experience with cooperative research.

After graduating, Thompson completed an internship in lobster research through the Bigelow Laboratory, focusing on the settlement index survey conducted by Richard Wahle of the University of Maine’s School of Marine Science.

In 2013, Thompson received her master’s degree in living marine resource science and management from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology. Her thesis project provided the first conclusive evidence of semiannual scallop spawning in U.S. waters on Georges Bank, which has important implications for management of the fishery.

From 2013 to 2014, Thompson served as a supervisory research biologist for Coonamessett Farm Foundation, a scientific research and education foundation based in Falmouth, Mass.

In January 2015, she began her doctoral studies at the University of Maine, focusing on northern shrimp reproduction and distribution.

“I’m excited about working closely with industry, especially here in my home state,” Thompson said in a statement.

“Katherine’s experience in scientific research of multiple fisheries provides a strong foundation for her work here at DMR,” said Kathleen Reardon, the department’s lead lobster biologist. “She has the strong academic and practical experience in marine science and commercial fishing to help move our monitoring programs forward.”

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