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Editorial: Lobster Reprieve

Posted: August 5, 2010
Originally Published: July 30, 2010

In 1999, the great lobster die off decimated an industry, almost wiping it out. But recently the few lobstermen still working the waters feared things would get worse.

That's because the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission proposed a five-year ban on lobstering from North Carolina to Cape Cod--a plan the commission dropped last week to the relief of lobstermen. As one of them told a recent gathering in East Setauket, a moratorium would have been devastating.

"That would be the end of the industry," said Jim King of Mattituck. "All the infrastructure is going to be lost."

But as Citizen's Campaign for the Environment argued, there are better options to protect lobsters and those who catch them. Protect egg-bearing females, they say, so they can replenish lobster populations. Put males on the menu.

The group recommends that New York adopt Connecticut's successful V-notch program.
When female lobsters are caught in Connecticut, lobstermen carve a V-shaped notch on their shells, then throw them back. The state pays them to do this. Eventually females can be taken when they're older and the notch closes over.

Sounds like a sensible way to protect lobster populations, and the livelihood of those who fish for them.