Connecticut Set to Start Lobster Conservation Program
The program works as a conservation method because if a lobsterman catches a lobster with a notched tail, he has to throw it back. The tail grows back after the lobster molts twice, which gives it more time to reproduce.
This Connecticut Post story about the program quotes a Bridgeport lobsterman named Louis Gomes:
Gomes is catching a few lobsters in each of the 400 traps he sets out, but most are below legal size. They are pulling about 100 pounds of legal lobster from the traps — down from 400 pounds before the die off.
In 1998, a record-high 3.7 million pounds of lobster was landed in the Sound, but a year later the industry was devastated by a die off that killed more than a million lobsters in the western Sound. In 2004, Connecticut lobstermen landed about 658,000 pounds of lobster, according to preliminary figures from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
No one knows of course what number constitutes a sustainable lobster harvest from the Sound, but my guess is that 3.7 million pounds is unrealistically high. Lobster fishing in the Sound has for decades been a crude form of fish-farming or ranching: the bait in the lobster pots would attract lobsters of all sizes but the ones that were too short to keep were thrown back after they ate, so the lobstermen were essentially feeding them until they reached legal size. From what Gomes says above, that’s happening again, which I suppose is good news.