Date of Award
Master of Science in Oceanography
Numerous factors must be considered in efforts to rebuild sustainable stock levels of the Southern New England (SNE) lobster stock including changing uses of marine space, such as the growth of the offshore wind industry, and stressors such as rising ocean temperatures. These factors may change the species’ habitat use and could further impact the ability of the region to support a healthy lobster population. This work uses data from pre-wind farm construction ventless trap surveys to further characterize the suitable habitat of the SNE lobster stock and to examine the effects of survey design, namely trap position and trap type, on pre-construction abundance estimates. Generalized additive models of trawl-level data, using a variety of response variables related to abundance, size, reproduction, and shell disease, reveal differing relationships between environmental variables and different subsets of lobster. Rocky and transition habitats were associated with greater abundance and clear seasonal patterns were indicative of migratory patterns to optimal thermal niches. Generalized linear models of trap-level data examining the effects of trap position and trap type on overall and legal catch demonstrate significant position and trap-type effects as well as a differential catchability of legal-size lobsters between ventless and standard traps. Legal lobsters were caught significantly more in standard traps than ventless traps and traps at the outer ends of a trawl were associated with higher catch than traps in the middle of a trawl. The continued importance of survey-based population assessments for both fisheries management and offshore wind development makes understanding trap dynamics and survey design key to accurate population assessments. This research has implications for future environmental monitoring survey design and the ability to measure cumulative impacts of offshore wind developments across the region.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Leahy, Annabelle, "EXPLORATORY ANALYSES OF AMERICAN LOBSTER HABITAT PREFERENCES AND CATCHABILITY IN VENTLESS TRAP SURVEYS" (2023). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 2308.
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