Lobster Recruitment and Retention

Recruitment and Retention of Lobsters in a New England Estuary

Win Watson, Professor of Zoology, UNH (603.862.1629, win@unh.edu)

The American lobster is the most valuable marine resource in New England and is heavily exploited in New Hampshire waters, including the Great Bay Estuary, where over 100,000 pounds of lobsters with a value in excess of $500,000 were landed in 2009.

Management of this species throughout its range depends, in part, on identifying different subpopulations and determining the source of new recruits on both local and regional scales. To this end, Watson and his research group will conduct studies to determine whether or not the estuary supports a self-sustaining lobster population. He will use underwater video to identify and quantify suitable habitats for the settlement of new recruits and the continued residence of adults. He will also deploy drifters that mimic passive larval movements to determine if larvae that hatch in the estuary are retained in the system. Finally, Watson's research group will use suction sampling methods, diver surveys and modified ventless lobster traps that are designed to capture and retain small juveniles to quantify the abundance of recently settled lobsters.

This research will directly benefit resource managers involved in developing management plans for the lobster fishery both in N.H. waters and in other similar bays and estuaries.