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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:34 am    Post subject: The New England Lobster Convention of 1903 IMEP #62 Reply with quote

IMEP #62 The New England Lobster Convention of 1903
Habitat Information for Fishers and Fishery Area Managers
Understanding Science Through History

(IMEP History Newsletters can be found indexed by date
Title on the BlueCrab.info TM website: Fishing, Eeling and Oystering Thread)
The Sound School ISSP – Capstone Series
Do Climate Factors Lead to Habitat Failure?
Climate Change and Habitat Capacity Complicates Policy Discussions
(Readers Should Review IMEP #53 The Southern New England Lobster Fisheries Collapse of 1898-1905 posted on July 30, 2015)

Timothy C. Visel, Coordinator
The Sound School Regional Vocational Aquaculture Center
60 South Water Street
New Haven, Connecticut 06519

Revised for Capstone/SAE Proposals, April 2017
ASTE Standards Aquaculture #5 Natural Resources #6, #7, #9
Review the 51 page “Report Upon a Convention Held at Boston, 1903, to Secure Better Protection of the Lobster” by J. W. Collins
Wright & Potter State Printers, 1904 Massachusetts

Two-Day 1903 Lobster Convention Allows Industry Proposals for Lobster Enhancement, Following Shallow Water Die Off

Submitted to the Lobster Management Board – Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission April 6, 2017 Public Comment Period LCMTs Prepare Preliminary Proposals (all pages)

Consider Habitat Enhancement (Artificial Reefs) and Lobster Hatcheries as possible response to management option for increasing egg production (survival).

To: Megan Ware, ASMFC

It was very nice meeting you recently at the Old Lyme Connecticut public hearing in response to Southern New England (Lobster) stock decline. Last year a paper regarding the lobster collapse 1898-1905 was included in the public comment section and perhaps this attached paper, IMEP #62 could be added as well.

I started this report after attending the 2016 Maine Fishermen’s Forum in Rockland Maine, it had been many years since I could attend a forum and had a great time. One item that did come up in several lobster discussions during the forum was climate, predator/prey and habitat bottlenecks, many of the same issues raised a century ago at the New England Lobster Convention of 1903. This two day convention raised similar issues of climate, predation by fish and “water space” (habitat).

The 1903 convention discussed important issues concerning the 1898 lobster die off that started in the fall of 1898, lobster hatchery science was included and perhaps today habitat enhancement (artificial reefs) and hatchery transplants could be part of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Management options. Some excellent research regarding habitat enhancement occurred in Boothbay Maine in the middle 1960s and later regarding the importance of kelp forests to southern New England’s lobster resource regarding this issues.

Perhaps lobster hatchery science and habitat enhancement (rubble/kelp reefs) could allow our very much diminished lobster fishery here to continue, offering any assistance to the Commission we may be able to provide.

Tim Visel, The Sound School

Capstone Questions:
Most lobster regulatory policy articles do not include references to the 1898 lobster die off or the 1903 Lobster Convention held in Boston on September 23 through September 24, 1903. On the second day of the convention, the lobster industry was invited in for comment/discussion. Almost all of the industry proposals were later incorporated into policy. Did the previous day’s discussions reflect in any of the resulting regulations?
Climate factors and temperature changes were mentioned at the convention but not connected to climate-induced cycles of lobsters. While some fisheries flourished in the Great Heat (1880-1920), such as oysters and blue crabs, others were in steep decline, such as lobsters and the bay scallop. How does the increase and decrease in these fisheries compare to multi-trophic predator/prey, habitat quality or quantity studies today as Maine’s lobster catch continues at very high levels and a huge lobster predator (codfish) is at a low point?

Habitat capacity concepts of expansion or compression refugia or dominance were still decades away from fishery management discussions. A larger lobster actually reduces carrying capacity for habitat limited areas and explains the first colonial reports of huge lobsters speared in shallow near shore areas. (They eat their young). Larger lobsters need deeper (colder) habitats and live in the shore only when water temperatures allow, giving the movement of lobsters back to the shallows each spring the appearance of runs – or the expansion or compression of habitats on a seasonal basis. Habitat enhancement (artificial reefs) was not part of the Lobster Convention discussion but lobster hatchery science was. How did this discussion impact future actions?

All the New England states built lobster hatcheries, including one at Noank, CT. Rhode Island, however, led the country with its development of a lobster upweller and larval culture bags. When the hatcheries were built, the summers were hot and winters mild. The summer of 1898 was so hot that ponds and lakes did not freeze. In 1899, southern New England experienced an “ice famine.” It was at this time the ice business moved north to coastal Maine towns, such as St. George, mid-coast Maine, “The ice business in St. George thrived during the 1890’s” (Coaster Days by Roy Meservey – Jackson Memorial Library, 1976, Pg. 14). Connecticut had declared brook trout extinct in 1901, but the oyster industry was thriving. Did any of these factors, in your opinion, influence the 1903 Lobster Convention?
Copies of the 1903 Lobster Convention report are available from Tim Visel in the Aquaculture Dept. (It is also available online)
The Lobster Convention of 1903
By 1900, it became evident that New England faced a severe “lobster problem.” Inshore southern New England catches especially New York and Connecticut were dropping. By 1902, “the lobster problem” became a regional lobster crisis. The 1903 lobster convention focused on two issues: uniform laws on the size of lobsters for commercial markets and the protection of egg-bearing female lobsters. In the decades before, egg-bearing females were preferred by many chefs, especially those in the Boston area, as eggs went into sauces and stuffing of lobster caviar. Most states after 1850 had enacted stiff penalties for keeping “eggers” and now most members focused upon “shorts,” now that each state was warned about its neighboring states well being of different sizes continued. However, it made enforcement of lobster laws tougher if just a few miles away what was a legal lobster was now illegal. Many lobster fishers may recall that Rhode Island had a smaller “legal” size lobster than the rest of New England for almost a century. The capture and selling of short “lobsters” now occupied much of the regulatory response to declining lobster abundance in southern New England. These lobsters had not sexually matured and sublegal lobsters represented a potential recruitment (egg) reproductive loss.
The state of Maine took much of the blame for insufficient enforcement of lobster regulation while recognizing the demand of summer visitors (summer trade/tourism) fueled the demand for lobster meat along its long hard to patrol coastline. In actuality, removing larger lobsters (from the 1820’s onward) had altered the natural carrying capacity of the lobster resources in many areas. Lobsters are cannibals, so it is very possible that the fishery had, in fact, created the conditions for shorts to now become a dominant part of the lobster population. This population because of habitat refugia from larger lobsters lived close to shore. Lobsters can live in excess of a century and crush any competing lobsters for food and space, allowing more (yet smaller) lobsters to live in a defined habitat area. A similar example exists with snapping turtles. Over time, one or two large snappers could exist in a small pond, crushing, killing or driving off smaller snappers, even its own young, unfortunately, until a balance to food and space is reached. Surviving snappers now grew to large sizes and existed within the carrying capacity of the available food. Trap out these large snappers and that would free up capacity for perhaps two or more smaller snappers; trap them and it freed up habitat for 20 to 30 small snappers, all competing for limited space and food. As snappers grew slowly in an area that had been “cropped,” smaller turtles were all that could be had. The snapper turtle fishery actually made more space available for more yet smaller turtles.
You could see how something very similar could happen with lobsters. There is a reason that the first settler accounts had accounts of speared lobsters a fathom long in shallow waters; they had overtime limited the abundance of other lobsters by killing off the smaller water competitors. In time, you were left with some very large lobsters and many small lobsters trying to live in a habitat area that usually meant death. With the removal of large lobsters, the natural carrying capacity had been altered to favor more smaller lobsters or “shorts.” Inshore areas where larger lobsters had held territory, this territory (habitat), were now available for many more lobsters. The trapping of legal size lobsters altered the capacity as well by feeding the shorts. In time, some areas within the small boat range contained all shorts, and if your job was to produce lobsters for the table, it left little choice. As larger lobsters freed up habitat space, the fishery did something as well – it now provided habitat and fed the shorts. Natural food limits had altered carrying capacity again as lobsters entered into a type of “bird feeder” husbandry. We had taken away the “groundskeepers” but now nourished the young as a contingent to fishing – the lobster bait itself.
The 1903 convention focused in on regulation, but in actual fact, climate had altered megalops drift (wind) and survival, carrying capacity had been altered by us, and warmer water reduced storm losses while speeding up growth. Lobsters in Maine were no longer habitat rich and cold water limited, but now habitat enhanced for a faster maturing lobster. In waters where lobsters could still live, those populations were mostly sublegal and surviving, as catch per trap (units of effort) dropped more traps (more food) were set. I would not be surprised that in many areas of our coast then sublegal populations surged as warm waters in southern New England contributed to a collapse of landings while those in Maine brought in many more legal lobsters. In the shallows of the southern range, waters were so warm there was an absence of lobsters of any size. It is these same conditions that govern carrying capacity for lobsters today, a century later, that remain poorly understood – temperature and energy cycles.
While the 1903 convention focused on regulation and lobster hatcheries, a warming climate, changing prey relationship and carrying capacity were not addressed. Maine’s landings would continue to hold and then collapse as cod in colder waters now became more abundant. Cod in colder waters devastated the lobster population and reduced habitat capacity to those areas in which cod could now feed. What was good for the cod fishers meant doom for small lobsters, as cleaned cod soon yielded stomachs full of lobster. Any extra carrying capacity was soon lost to a growing population of codfish. Lobster catches in Maine then declined.
A Habitat History
By 1902, the southern New England lobster fishery was in ruin and the U.S. Fish Commission, created in 1871 to investigate the decline of warm water fish (the 1870’s would bring incredible cold to New England, including the Connecticut cattle catastrophe of 1873 when exposed milking cows froze in Connecticut fields), saw opportunity in bringing all the states together to discuss lobster regulations, then termed “uniform laws.” It was promoted by J. W. Collins of the U.S. Fish Commission and by Dr. George Field of Massachusetts, a colleague and once employed by the same U.S. Fish Commission who provided conference support and eventually its host site, Boston, Massachusetts.
1898 was a terrible year for southern New England fisheries. The summers of 1895 to 1897 had some of the worst heat waves since the Civil War. The bitter cold of the 1870’s had now become a distinct memory when temperatures fell as much as 30 degrees below zero for days at a time. The late 1890s were very different.
Connecticut oyster growers suffered a massive sulfide kill in deep water of Long Island Sound beds, asking for a survey in 1899. In September of 1898, Narragansett Bay turned red and then chocolate, as Dr. Mead of Brown University wrote that a “plague” had descended upon the citizens of Rhode Island. In small salt ponds and coves in southern New England, the warm water had numerous fish kills, and some of the worst had black waters, the sulfide overturn that left an odor of sulfur in morning mists. In 1899, the warm waters from an extremely hot summer created an “ice famine.” Southern New England block ice producers had no product to sell or store as waters did not freeze all winter.
Into this heat, small lobsters inshore died by the millions as city residents rushed to New England coastlines for the promise of cool water breezes, lobsters left the shallows for deeper waters into the mouths of deeper water predators. It must have been a slaughter. If they could move, many I estimate, did not make it and died in the shallows easy prey for “warm water” fish.
A type of habitat failure occurred, habitat compression. {The term habitat “compression” signals an event that after appears before a habitat failure defined as habitat conditions that no longer are able to support one or more habitat functions, nursery, grow out, maturation or reproduction. For lobsters undergoing compression from high temperatures it is a form of a “blue crab jubilee” detailed in southern areas and in the fisheries literature when extremely hot conditions with little wind or storm “energy.” Sulfide levels from organic reduction build into the water column until organisms (in this case blue crabs flee, and crawl out of the water) are forced to leave the water itself, and thus make for easy catching.
A lobster jubilee is much less noticeable (lobsters rarely are reported to leave the waters) but easy catching is the lobster catches in compressed habitats that can be quite high or surge. These events are recorded in landings as described by Dr. Donald Rhoads of Yale in the early 1980s. Rising temperatures can cause sulfide events (such as the loss of Striped Bass nursery habitats in Chesapeake Bay in the 1970s) and for lobsters catches would increase just before a collapse.
Dr Rhoads describes this event in a 1985 Long Island Sound Workshop – The EPA-NOAA estuarine workshop series #3 which brought about 50 Island Sound researchers (both New York and Connecticut) together to discuss habitat, environmental and fisheries concerns relating to Long Island Sound.
NOAA Estuary of the Month, Seminar Series No 3, Long Island Sound Issues Resources Status & Management PG 88-175773 Prepared for the EPA Washington CT January 1997 (Seminar date May 10th, 1989). On page S6 Donald Rhoads of Yale mentions this relationship.
“I want to leave you with an interesting thought about oxygen-organism relationships. Secondary benthic production can be very high in the hypoxic and dysaerobic zones, a phenomenon related to the abundance and high turnover rate of enrichment species that dominate these zones. This production (mainly polychaetes) may attract and support enhanced populations of benthic foagers such as demersal fish and crustaceans. However, as the basinal low-oxygen conditions spread up the sides of the basin, these commercially important predators may be compressed into an ever decreasing aerobic environment. The immediate perception may be one of increased catch per unit effort by fishermen. As a result, maximum commercial yields may be obtained just before there is a crash in the exploited populations. This crash may be related to enhanced fishing pressure, immigration of species from the encroaching hypoxic water and intensified competition for space and food in the diminished aerobic habitat space. These observations are consistent with the general observation that the early to intermediate stages of eutrophication may temporarily increase the carrying capacity of a benthic system.” (Pearson and Rosenberg, 1978).
This is the type of situation that proceeded the industry lobster die off in Long Island Sound in the late 1990’s just before the “crash” lobster catches soared, habitat compression did occur in waters with more oxygen a Long Island Lobster “Jubilee” but signified a much lower habitat quality.}Larger lobsters moved into cooler waters, and for a while, Cape Cod lobster catches increased. So did the state of Maine while lobster fishers in the south most likely found empty pots, dead lobsters or those diseased, called black tail. In some coastal towns, there were no small lobsters at all, such as Noank, CT once the Capital of New England lobster trade which “lay in destruction” as catches fell. Into the heat, eelgrass flourished and bottoms turned black. It is important to note that Native Americans may have left clues to previous reversals as Niantic River was once called “Black Bay.” Perhaps an ancient reminder of long ago when shallow waters could turn black as part of a very long history of natural cycles (see Art Gaines, Value Judgment and Science, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, New England Salt Pond Data Book, June 1990, Arthur C. Gaines, Jr., Pg 17). (History of New London County D. Hamilton Hurd 1882).
The brutal heat waves of the 1890’s had taken its toll on the freshwater fisheries as well. Here we see the first comments about fishery collapses and habitat failures. By 1900, states saw the failure of brook trout, a native coldwater species. Connecticut in 1901 declared brook trout now extinct, started to build the framework for the U.S. Fish Commission trout hatcheries and considered the importation of brown and rainbow trout as being more heat “tolerant.” Some of the first hatchery science in the U.S. was for freshwater fish as the New England carrying capacity for trout declined for a decade. Alewife in this heat also declined sometimes “abandoning” its coastal runs (now suspected by the result of sulfide blocks).
But not all fisheries declined, black sea bass filled the Rhode Island trap nets, blue crabs now surged, and oyster sets covered the shores. Some of the best oyster sets had happened in the 1890’s. In the 1870’s, oyster sets were rare and New England once depended upon “Virginia plants” for seed oysters. When Block Island fishers reported tropical fish and tarpon were caught in Narragansett Bay fishery managers grew alarmed. In 1898 Rhode Island fishery managers now commissioned the Narragansett Bay Biological Survey and that annual survey continues today. A very famous striped bass fishing club, now known as the Cuttyhunk Club, moved its location north three times following huge striped bass that, into this heat, grew to enormous size, yet moved farther and farther north. The first marine experiment station was created to study the decline of coastal fisheries after an immense fish kill in Point Judith Pond, RI in 1897. The first director of this marine experiment station was none other than George Wilton Field himself, now working in Massachusetts after leaving the Rhode Island facility in 1901 (See the search for Megalops Blue Crab Forum™, Blue Crab Newsletter, Series #3, posted on November 2015 – Northeast Crabbing Resources, The Blue Crab Forum™ “Rhode Island, Blue Crab Capital.”)
With both fresh and saltwater fisheries undergoing rapid change, the U.S. Fish Commission was building federal fish hatcheries (some of these programs continue today) investigating the decline of shad now thought to be the result of high temperature “sulfide blocks.” It was this context that Dr. Field also hoped, perhaps, that uniform laws could stop and possibly reverse the decline of lobster in Massachusetts which had now become a popular seafood menu item for those wishing to spend summers at the shore away from the brutal “hot terms.” Lobster fishers had now “ready markets” along the coast where lobsters were caught, no longer totally dependent on distant markets. The market had now moved to them as the “summer trade” from what must have been seen as a growing “summer population” at the shore. Some no doubt took advantage of this commercial opportunity, and scrubbing eggers (once a prized delicacy) and cooking “shorts” for fresh lobster meat for shore visitors was a problem as was the impacts of factory waste pollution that putrefied in slow moving streams. Overharvesting, impact of pollution and climate change would all “seats” at the lobster convention of 1903, which fishing area managers hoped would finally bring uniform lobster regulations to New England; it was not to be.
The Lobster Convention of 1903: A Missed Opportunity to Review Climate Change, Prey Relationships and Lobster Habitat Carrying Capacity

Was a decline in lobsters from overfishing or from climate? This question overshadowed the entire 1903 conference, and Rhode Island, which had several large fish kills in the 1890’s including one in Narragansett Bay, put forth the strongest climate change questions.
“The ever varying conditions that exist on the surface of the earth doubtless exist in as large measure at the bottom of the ocean, in that part occupied by the fish. Just what effect is produced by the changes we will not attempt to solve at this time.” Rhode Island Commissioner Southwick states “We cannot well control the effects produced by nature, hence all that can be done, if anything, is to restrict the catch by man.” (Pg. 12)
That belief became pervasive in fisheries management and was to hold for over a century, what can we do about nature, delaying or dismissing critical predator/prey, carrying capacity, and climate cycles’ impacts studies to the lobster fishery. In other words, the conference attempted to give nature a “free pass” for the lobster die off of 1898, which now continued. But some felt otherwise, and the Rhode Island Commissioner, Mr. Southwick, later read a paper to the convention that included this section: [My comments are in brackets, T. Visel]
“For ourselves, we think that only calculations of the inhabitants of the great deep, which ignores the fluctuations caused by nature, very fallacious” and further we ask here to be allowed to quote from Professor Baird (First Director of the U.S. Fish Commission) in his estimate of the number of fish destroyed upon our coast by blue fish at 10 billion daily or the number of menhaden so destroyed at 3 billion (daily) in the summer months. He also says this calculation might be pursued to any extent, but I have presented enough to show that the question of human agencies in the way of affecting or influencing the great ocean fisheries is scarcely worth considering.” And Mr. Southwick continues “True every lobster taken causes a reduction, but the question is as to the measure of the reduction. It must, to be effective, be beyond their power of reproduction. This is the question of most importance relating to the legal control of the lobster fishery.” (Pg. 40)
“So general and fixed is the belief in the efficiency of this method [controlling human catch efforts – T. Visel] that very much money and effort is continually being put into it, even though no apparent success follows, and within certain limits all are willing to acquiesce in it as on experiment, but some appear to wish it anyhow, successful or not, with these we cannot agree.” (Pg. 41)
These were strong words from Rhode Island to the conference that was designed to put forth a “unified effort.”
It is easy to read between the lines as J.W. Collins issues a stern rebuke to the Fisheries Commissioner, Mr. Southwick from Rhode Island, who later raises the issue of habitat carrying capacity to a species already known for its ability to eat each other – “water space” is referred to as habitat quantity and capacity as to control populations because they eat their young and each other. Today we would call these “space” issues as artificial reefs. According to Commissioner Southwick:
“… the great difficulty in the propagation of lobsters is in having the water space large enough under natural conditions to put them in after they are raised to the third or fourth moulting. Their home is in the ocean, and to find a space large enough that they can have control of is very difficult in a small state like Rhode Island. That is the difficulty in the rearing of lobsters for commercial purposes. The great destruction of lobsters, as I saw from the little experiments I had myself, was when they are in a confined space. They eat one another and fight like tigers. It is hard to get them distributed through the water and get them separated. The motion of the water in the breeding apparatus keeps them separate, but if they had a large space they would separate without the motion.” (Pg. 14)
From: Our Changing Fisheries, USAPO, 1971, NOAA (In press as a US Fish & Wildlife Service Publication) on page 459 includes this reference:
“Current investigations include improving propagation techniques and living conditions for lobsters in their natural environment; one promising technique for improving lobster abundance is the construction of artificial reefs and burrows using such objects as tile pipes. An artificial reef was constructed in Boothbay Harbor in 1966 observations by a scuba team revealed a dramatic increase in the lobster population. By December 1967, lobsters utilizing the new reef and increased in number until they were six times as abundant as an adjacent natural grounds.”
J.W. Collins, who co-chaired the conference, believed that overfishing was an industry condition, and New Jersey, although not invited, was mentioned.

“But the conditions that confront us today had confronted New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and may sooner or later present themselves to our friends in Maine.” (Pg. 43)

{In other words, the die-off was suspected of spreading to the north but not detailed as such T. Visel}.

Commissioner Collins, whose opinion the convention valued, believed the increase in Maine’s lobster catches was from an expanding winter fishery in the north (not climate related). Because of the bias at the time to seek out human causes, Collins dismisses the increase in Maine’s catches as southern New England’s catches declined from warm waters (Pg. 39). Winters were now open, warmer fish conditions improved as areas became ice-free – this was not mentioned at all! No one, it seems, mentioned on expanding the winter fishing season as a result of changing climate conditions that now made winter fishery possible.

“The distinguished commissioner from Maine finds that during the past three or four years, there has been a gradual increase in the yield of the lobster fishery of Maine as shown by carefully compiled statistics that have been gathered by his deputies. This would seem to indicate that there has been an increase in the abundance of the lobster. If not, why this increase in the catch? It is not necessary to seek far to find the cause,” and this was the cause according to Collins was a winter fishery.

As Collins explains: [My comments are in brackets, T. Visel]

“The recent remarkable advance in the price of the lobster, especially accentuated in the winter, has led to the employment of a larger number of men and a still larger number of pots for the capture of lobsters. Also, whereas the lobster fishery was formerly pursued only six or seven months in a year, possibly eight months in extreme cases, it has gradually become customary in these recent years for the fishermen to pursue their industry throughout the year, thus fishing about 40% of the time longer than they used to. Besides this, the winter fishery has led to the exploitation of new grounds. Now the boats sometimes go out ten or fifteen miles from land to fish, and fully investigate fishing grounds that they did not venture to visit five or six years ago. Thus, the area of available bottom resorted to has been doubled. This has led to a slight increase in the Maine catch from year to year for the past four years [I believe the rapid rise started in 1898, the year that the Narragansett Bay die off, known as “the plague,” occurred and detailed by Brown University’s Dr. Mead, T. Visel] because more and more of the hardy fishermen have taken up winter fishing each year recently [This period saw open winters, shorter “ice on” days and in 1899 New England weather was so warm an ice famine occurred. T. Visel]. But so far as showing any increase in the general abundance of the lobster, the contrary is true, for as already stated, there is a pronounced scarcity of lobsters on many of the inshore grounds where they were formerly present in large numbers.”

[This is, of course, a form of high-temperature habitat compression lobsters leaving the shallows as determined by Rhode Island Narragansett Bay tagging studies] (See IMEP #53, The Southern New England Lobster Fisheries Collapse of 1898-1905)

In actual fact, “winter” fishery was occurring because the climate conditions from the 1870’s had in time changed; it was warmer in New England and few strong storms during the Great Heat 1880-1920. That was, in essence, correct; a widespread decline had happened in the southern New England states and most noticeably in shallow waters. But conference attendees gave little review to climate conditions (This would change in two years as Rhode Island officials grew alarmed when Tarpon was caught in Narragansett Bay in 1905 with the combined incredible rise in eelgrass and the blue crab). The demand for lobster meat, mentioned several times in the conference report, came from summer visitors but made no mention of the reasons why large numbers of them sought to escape from city killer heat waves and disease outbreaks themselves, mostly tuberculosis, which spread fear and loathing to what was called “the hot term.” (See appendix about Sanatoria). In this heat and dry summers, forest fires increased and coldwater brook trout had “vanished.” While the lobster population collapsed the oyster industry grew rapidly in the same waters in which lobsters were disappearing, such as Narragansett Bay. No one mentioned the ice failure of 1899 just four years before the convention. And what about the blue crab, from minor importance in the 1870’s, Noank, CT and Buzzards Bay, MA once thrived on inshore lobster fisheries soon found a new “blue” crustacean inhabiting its shores, the now abundant “southern” blue crab? The Great Heat of 1880-1920 for southern New England and 1890-1915 for northern New England saw oysters and blue crabs extending ranges far to the north as compared to the 1870’s. Maine’s rivers started to have again widespread oyster sets, which now spread into the Canadian Maritimes by 1910.

In these summer heats, black water fish kills increased, alewife and shad runs diminished and cod moved to northern cooler waters. All these factors contributed to a transitioning climate period, a warm stable coastline period with few storms. These climate shifts did not enter the discussions. As the heat moderated in the late teens and winters became colder, codfish returned in greater numbers and now found millions of small lobsters, prime food just waiting for the return of cod its chief non-human predator. The catching of larger lobsters enabled the natural carrying capacity to be moved far to the right of more yet smaller lobsters, ready to eat meals for codfish now poised to recapture lost habitat ranges. The heat would bring lower codfish catches declining in 1908 and drop to its lowest point about 5,000 metric tons in the gulf of Maine in 1915 when it started to cool in the 1920’s, codfish catches recovered. This most likely contributed to lower lobster catches as cod now found an important forage base to help rebuild its population. It is important to note that cooler temperatures bring adult cod closer to (Pg. 173) shores and into habitats of small lobsters. In the spring of 1879, for example at the end of a decade of very cold New England temperatures, 11,000,000 pounds of codfish were caught in Ipswich Bay by local fishers (Bigelow & Schroder 1953, Pg. 193) and that the most prevalent bait used to catch cod was the soft clam (Pg. 196). As waters cooled, lobster growth slowed, and Maine’s lobster catches tumbled while those in the south slowly recovered. With the clash of colder polar air sinking south, it energized coastal lows and it is during this period that small lobsters were cast upon the shore to die. Storm intensity and frequency increased ripping out eelgrass meadows in the 1940s, which dominated shallow habitats between 1880 and 1920 and replaced it with cleaned cobble stones and then kelp forests, a great habitat for those lobster areas in southern New England. The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the lobster recapture “lost” habitats at the turn of the century in southern New England.

And the blue crab which increased so rapidly at the turn of the century - it was now retreating into the warmer and shallower salt ponds and rivers. Here organics (Sapropel) allowed it to dig in and survive the winter but by the 1950s and 1960s at the height of a negative Northeast Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) colder waters and less Sapropel blue crab populations ended in may areas.

With all the information on climate patterns today from numerous sources, we should take a look at climate factors again influencing lobster stocks in New England, including habitat quality and quantity in the southern range.

The Lobster Convention of 1903 would challenge most of the assumptions of fishing impacts if a broader resource viewpoint was considered. Herrick, who had published a major study of the lobster in 1895 (he did not attend the 1903 convention), provides information on lobster carrying capacity on Cape Cod, notes that the Provincetown, Cape Cod and that the fishery started at 1800. By 1865, a marked decline had occurred; citing “Rathbun” “The Cape Cod lobster fishery has been at a low standing for many years, and although but few men have enjoyed in the fishery of that region for a long time, there are, as yet, no signs of improvement.” (Pg.22)

Now compare that to the statement from the same location in 1903 [The Lobster Convention of 1903] the Cape Cod fishery was improving. “Last year, 1902 the lobster fishery on Cape Cod never was better,” pg 45. It is important to note that industry and lobster fishers were invited and did not participate in the first day regulatory discussion on September 23, 1903, but included only in the second day, September 24, 1903 the wrap-up session at 2:15 p.m. and largely gave the convention almost all of the measures for conservation and protection adopted for consideration in the final report [T. Visel] = use of a larger escape vent such as utilized by area lobster fishers on Cape Cod, a requirement having state permits, suggested uniform sizes (all states) and that lobsters be marketed live in the shell. Dr. Field supported the use of hatcheries and the conference becomes divided. “It was not found practicable for the committee to agree on any other recommendation for laws, which should equally apply to all the lobster producing states. In regard to the plan (hatcheries) advanced by Dr. Field, the convention was impressed with the idea that the experimentation had not been carried far enough to take the matter beyond the plan of theoretic, and therefore scarcely safe at this time to risk an entire change of the system of lobster protection”. In other words, the construction of lobster hatcheries would continue and accelerate {CT approved funding in 1904 for the Noank lobster hatchery.}

Natural History of the American Lobster H.F. Hobart and Consideration of Water Temperatures

Would the convention of 1903 unify states to regulations or admit a climate/natural factor was a part of the decline? In the end, they decided to do both, protect the egg bearing females v-notch/gauge laws and invest some additional hatchery resources to raise stage 4 when it has a much larger chance to grow. Releasing the fry most likely fed increased Black Sea Bass, which surged in abundance during the Great Heat 1880-1920. (p. 376) Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries (1909, Document #47) told of the movement away from releasing lobster fry (megalops stage) to rearing lobsters until they reached stage 4.

“It further shows that the method of hatching the eggs of this animal and immediately liberating its young is ineffective, because of the meager results which can come from it. On the other hand, it speaks loudly in favor of a law to protect the large egg producers (regulation gauge v-notch), and of the newer plan of rearing (lobster hatcheries) the young to the bottom seeking stage (stage 4), as the only means pisciculture (old term for Aquaculture) can hope to aid this fishery materially.”

The Natural History of the American Lobster – Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries Vol. 29, 1909, Document #47, Issued July 13, 1911

History of the Lobster Hatcheries

Did the 1903 lobster convention accomplish what conference organizers hoped for? No, it did not. If anything, it brought a strong rebuke from Rhode Island, which felt smaller lobsters increased habitat capacity (it did increase the gauge, actually reduces capacity for those species that are cannibals) and that weather (climate) conditions influenced the survival of young lobsters (Rhode Island’s view would be largely supported by looking at climate energy and temperature cycles).

What we can do, in retrospect, is examine the lobster hatchery records themselves; they often contained habitat observations, such as the Wickford Rhode Island Lobster Hatchery reports.

We have a chance to look at an entire series of lobster hatchery reports from the Lobster Hatchery Reports from Noank, CT (Some of these reports are now posted on-line by the University of California at Berkeley). This quote is from the State of Connecticut Report of Fish and Game Commissioners 1911-1912: from a lobster fisher of the last century –

GUILFORD {CT} “The marked increase of small lobsters is very gratifying and is sufficient proof that the hatchery is one of the greatest institutions in the State, and I shall do all I can to help the Commissioners of Fisheries and Game in the protection and propagation.”

In the end, what conference organizers had hoped to occur with unified lobster regulations did not happen. Lobster fishers continued to mention observations of no shorts at all. In 1904, as southern Connecticut lobster fishers continued to report a near absence of shorts in shallow waters and diseases (called black tail), a consensus formed around an artificial lobster culture of the stage 4 lobsters. Rhode Island had a major aquaculture breakthrough with its larval upweller in Wickford, Rhode Island and developed the concept of a hatchery stocking process, releasing stage 4 into an algae bottom cover.

Massachusetts would continue to push the regulatory agenda and issued a 200 page report titled “The Lobster Fishery: A Special Report - Suggestions for Unified Laws in 1911, mostly from Dr. George Field’s point of view. Massachusetts would, in time, open a lobster hatchery on Martha’s Vineyard. The Boothbay Lobster Hatchery in Maine operated for nearly half a century. Eventually the cost of heating the seawater, it was felt, outweighed the benefits. Lost in the cost discussion, it appears, was the fact that seawater temperatures over time had gotten cooler and therefore cost more to heat.

In summary, all the states that operated lobster hatcheries should make these reports available to the lobster community, fishers, shippers, those involved in retail and wholesale businesses, and finally the seafood consuming public.

While the concept of overharvesting has followed the lobster fishery for more than two centuries, this latest die-off has occurred under excellent regulations. In fact, raising the gauge again will actually make the resource recovery harder (my view). Additional competition for food and space by raising the gauge does not ensure habitat quality or quantity.

In addition to the lobster hatchery efforts of the 1900’s, fishery area managers suspected but did not know for certain the relationship of kelp/cobblestone to the survival of the key stage four for juveniles. They did not follow the cycles of vegetation as it compared with young of the year habitat quality. We have some excellent kelp/cobblestone habitat studies to support habitat enhancement itself, the construction of low profile “rubble reefs,” which grow kelp and could help provide stage four lobsters with “new space.” (See recruitment habitats and nursery grounds of the American Lobster Homarus americanus a demographic bottleneck? Wahle /Steneck 1991). We could, in fact, build more habitat capacity with artificial reefs, and we should proceed with both these site location reef efforts and investigate hatchery efforts – my view, Tim Visel.

The Southern New England Lobster Die-Off of 1898 The Lobster Convention of 1903


The Lobster Convention of 1903 did not accomplish what it was intended to do, which was to unify regulations in the Maritimes including Canada. In fact, in many ways, it was an introduction to climate cycles. Maine presented data in which its lobster catches were now increasing. Maine, Rhode Island, and Canada pointed to nature and environmental factors as guiding lobster populations. The southern New England states and its fishery managers at the time were frustrated by these comments, thus the section from conference proceedings written by Joseph W. Collins:

“The distinguished commissioner from Maine finds that during the past three or four years there has been a gradual increase in the yield of the lobster fishery of Maine, as shown by carefully compiled statistics that have been gathered by his deputies. This would seem to indicate that there has been an increase in the abundance of the lobster. If not, why this increase in the catch?”

States reporting catch increases were not what conference organizers had anticipated. In reports at the time discussed a unified regulatory approach about sizes as “shorts” were a problem, especially areas in northern New England and in the Canadian Maritimes where a number of short lobsters had risen dramatically. The 1903 Lobster Convention transcripts record this frustration as representatives of several states mentioned climate factors and that, in some regions, lobster populations were in fact increasing. Nova Scotia, Canada felt that it was climate and was preparing for sector management; lobster biology conditions for the north were different than those in the south. Others at the convention agreed. Rhode Island felt it was the impact of temperature and strongly opposed additional regulation upon the industry. Some good rules happened, releasing eggers and trap escape vents. Rhode Island supported seasons, and did so in 1904, but reversed itself in 1905 as having no effect. Maine continued to press the point that as the lobster populations continued to die off in the south, lobster catches in the north were increasing and Canada was preparing individual management zones. Each area was climate different and was to be considered for lobster management separate. So instead of unifying regulations, Canada was poised to establish different rules for each section of its Maritimes. Mr. Southwick of Rhode Island read a prepared statement that concerned dramatic water temperature warming as a natural impact – and referenced Spencer Baird, the U.S. Fish Commission Director himself, who also felt climate cycles deserved a closer look with temperatures before enacting additional regulations – Southwick of Rhode Island comments:
“What is the cause of diminished size and decreased numbers? Admitting that both are true, these are important matters in the settlement of the very great questions how to stop a reduction and how to cause an increase of lobsters in our waters. If we can determine the cause we can better arrive at a conclusion as to what will be a remedy, as a doctor first diagnoses his case before attempting to apply remedies. Heretofore, remedies have been tried with no better result than generally follow quack practice. Restrictive laws have not sufficed to increase the numbers of lobsters, and we should be very glad could we know that artificial propagation had been made a commercial success. We would be the last to say a word to discourage the efforts made in artificial aid to nature in every way it may be applied to the lobsters or any other of our fisheries. There has been so much accomplished that we have great hopes of much more in the future. The importance of the object aimed at justifies all the effort that may be made and any expenditure of time and money it may require.” …
“Yet there is another peril, which we have not mentioned —the diseases to which they are subject, for we cannot believe they are immune from what attacks other forms of life. The ever-varying conditions that exist on the surface of the earth doubtless exist in as large measure at the bottom of the ocean —in that part occupied by the fishes. Just what effect is produced by these changes we will not attempt to solve at this time.”
Additionally, Mr. Venny, the speaker from Ottawa, Canada was reported as saying:
“First, I desire to tender the thanks of the Department of Marine and Fisheries of Canada for the opportunity my colleague, Mr. Bertram, and I have of being here today, and the benefit we have received from the information given us by gentlemen of the different States. But of course we are here in a rather peculiar position. We will gladly give you the benefit of anything we know. If we in the Dominion have done something, which seems better to you than you have been able to do, we will be very happy to explain those points to you. But I don't think we can undertake to join in any agreement you may make about the sea and shore fisheries. Of course the lobster is a peculiar animal, and each country and perhaps each State must deal with it according to the needs of their respective localities.

Professor Prince in 1896 wrote: — “In the Dominion of Canada there remains the last great lobster fishery of the world, and it is not too much to say that this fishery has reached a critical stage.”
“From time to time since 1873 restrictions have been imposed upon our lobster fisheries. As long ago as 1877 the necessity for sectional close seasons was recognized and admitted by Canadian legislation; and, although changes have since been made in the dates and geographical divisions, the principle has not only been maintained but greatly extended, inasmuch as at present there are no less than seven different close times.”
“The question of a uniform close season has been open to much argument in the past, and the records of the department reveal that scarcely a season has passed without concessions, based on geographical and climatic conditions in different districts.”
“I notice nothing has been said here to-day leading to the idea that you have any close seasons for lobsters. It seems that you are satisfied with attempting to save the lobster by the size limit. We go farther in that respect. We have seven sections in the Provinces having close seasons varying from eight to ten and a half months. We regard that as very important. We put berried lobsters out after the close season comes in force and after the open season is over, and therefore we think they cannot be caught again until the next open season. The close season with us is really the most important factor in the regulations.”
“Lobsters are climatic. The difference in the legal lengths permitted by our regulations is explained in this way.” (Collins, J., Report Upon A Convention held at Boston, 1903, to Secure Better Protection of the Lobster, pp. 18-22)
For the fishery management efforts, the conference was not accomplishing what fishing managers had hoped. Scarcely a season has passed without concessions “based upon climate conditions in different districts.” In fact, the 1903 Convention had done more to identify differences of opinion and climate questions based upon temperature than uniform laws. It must have been frustrating for convention organizers as attempts to unify regulations across large regions were failing. I think Dr. Field carried more than J.W. Collins ever realized to the convention and if I may read between the lines to “Dr. Fields’ plan,” George Wilton Field brought his personal experience as well to what habitat failure meant to inshore fishers; Dr. Fields was familiar with 1897 Fishkill at Pt. Judith Pond of Narragansett, Rhode Island. It was here that a growing land grant agricultural school we know today as a University of Rhode Island opened up the first marine laboratory in 1898 – staffed by Dr. Field. He was also in Rhode Island to see the beginning of the lobster die-off detailed by Dr. A. D. Mead of Brown University in Narragansett Bay itself. (An Investigation of The Plaque Which Destroyed Multitudes Of Fish And Crustacean During The Fall Of 1898 – November 18, 1898 issue of Science Magazine Vol. 8 #203.) Seeing these types of sulfide/low oxygen fish kills in the Southern New England was for different than the cooler, oxygen-rich shores of Maine. Blackwater events were rare in Maine (except those rivers obtaining pulp from lumber mills or paper factories) and storms killed many more lobsters in shallow water then black water. I feel after reading, the convention meeting summary was written by J.W. Collins, perhaps Dr. Field felt that this situation alone could not be solved by unified regulations and why perhaps his experiences would begin a lifelong support of Aquaculture? In many books today, Dr. Field is mentioned as the “Father of Aquaculture” and that interest possibly be traced to the lobster die-off of 1898.

The climate of southern New England was hot but warmer waters had increased lobster catches to the north. This difference was not easily explained and led to further division. Rhode Island, for example, felt a smaller lobster is more suited in its region and would have its own legal size lobster for 70 years. Maine would develop a double gauge and the v-notching of lobsters. Massachusetts and Connecticut moved to uniform laws. All, however, built lobster hatcheries.
In the end, New England states all soon had operational lobster hatcheries, realizing that it was perhaps not all a “regulatory solution.” Something had happened to the “shorts” and fishery officials, even those who supported stricter laws, eventually supported the construction of lobster hatcheries. What had happened was beyond just better laws.
I have been asked many times recently if the “Aquaculture” lobster hatchery efforts a century ago – helped the lobster industry rebuild. I believe they did. The same question could be asked of Agriculture, “Does it help raise food?” The quick short answer is “yes,” but one can have the best soil pH, the most expensive seed, and a proper nutrient balance, but if it does not rain, “all is lost.”
That is what farmers and fishers face, the uncertainties of nature itself. Today we call it cycles; long ago it was “feast or famine.”
We should not ignore the fact that turn of the century hatchery efforts coincided with a growing negative NAO phase – the climate conditions favorable for lobster megalops to stage four improved in the 1940’s and 1950’s (See NOAA Climate Prediction Center North Atlantic Oscillation – NAO Index since January 1950). It got colder. As kelp beds grew in southern New England, lobster recruitment now improved. By the late 1950’s in a cooler climate period, these hatcheries were nearly all closed. The warm waters of the 1890’s had turned cool once again. While the hatcheries were active, however, the lobster fishery continued.
I respond to all emails at tim.visel@new-haven.k12.ct.us
Appendix A

New England Climate Conditions after 1864
492 – Boston Medical and Surgical Journal – May 3, 1906

Dr. William Ogle has shown that fishermen, who are from the nature of their occupation, exposed to the greatest amount of moisture in the air and surroundings, have the lowest death rate from respiratory disease, and that occupations necessitating an indoor life the highest, where presumably they are more protected from dampness and the vicissitudes of weather. The late Dr. Abbott of our State Board of Health conclusively demonstrated tuberculosis to be essentially an indoor disease and the outdoor treatment is our so-called damp and cold (The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 154, Pg. 491).

The incidence of tuberculosis, an infectious bacterial disease primarily of the lungs, once called consumption, soared after 1898, as cities felt the burden of outbreaks resulting in the construction of sanatoria for “fresh air” after reports were circulated such as the above after 1906. Sanatoriums were often built on lakes and by the sea. The Catskills in New York became the location of the first sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis. In 1930, the State Commission on Tuberculosis would purchase the Smith-Crimes estate in Waterford, CT and became a “Seaside Sanatorium” until the use of streptomycin made such establishments unnecessary. For half a century, people with tuberculosis would seek out salt air, believing it had curative powers. This belief of “salt air” continued far into the 1950s and 1960s. The estate is now scheduled to become a state park.
Appendix B
United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries
47th Congress First Session, Document 124, Part 3
Geographical Review of the Fisheries -
R. Edward Earl 1883 – Print Date 1887 GPO
New Jersey Northern Coast, Pg. 391
[My inserts/comments are within brackets T. Visel]
Northern New Jersey The Southern Limit of the Lobster Fishery

“Lobsters are found all along the New Jersey coast, but not in sufficient numbers in its lower half to warrant the fishermen in engaging in their capture. The lobster fishery of the state is therefore confined to its northern portion or to the region lying between Sandy Hook and Squan River, this being the southern limit of the lobster fisheries of the United States. The fishermen of northern New Jersey have been engaged in the capture of the lobster for many years, and about 1860, the fishery is said to have been quite important [This represents a much cooler period but increasing warmth in the 1860’s – T. Visel]. From that date, the business gradually declined [This is the warming influence – T. Visel] until, in 1870, the capture of the species was almost wholly discontinued. In 1872, the fishery again to revive [This explains the impact of bitterly cold winters most likely created cold waters along the shore – T. Visel] and at present time large quantities of lobsters are taken in the region” [The 1870’s had some of the coolest temperatures in perhaps several hundred years. The winter of 1873-1874 was so cold, minus 20oF or lower for days that apple trees froze and cattle in unheated barns died in Connecticut – T. Visel].

In 1880, there were fourteen boats with twenty-eight men engaged regularly in the capture of lobsters in connection with their work in the line and net fishery, the catch being sold in New York and Philadelphia and partly to the local trade. The pots, which are covered with netting, are usually set in May [about the same temperature range as the July “run” on the Long Island Sound – T. Visel] and the fishing continues until October, though a few men begin fishing early in March, and others fish until the last day in November [Also, the fall/early winter “run,” usually around Thanksgiving in Long Island Sound, can be almost as large as the July “run” but of much shorter duration – T. Visel].

Appendix C
State of Connecticut --Report of Fish and Game Commissioners
Frank W. Hewes, M.D., President
Groton, Connecticut
E. Hart Geer, Secretary
Hadlyme, Connecticut
Frank O. Davis
Pomfret, Connecticut

Lobsters. Through enactment of the Legislature of 1905, the propagation of the lobster was placed in control of this Commission. Previous to this little or no attention was given to lobster protection and none to artificial propagation.

The statistics collected by the United States Bureau of Fisheries in 1908 shows there were TEN persons pursuing the occupation of lobster fishing at Noank. In 1902, your Commission issued thirty-two permits for persons to engage in the lobster fishing. This number does not include quite a number of persons who confine their fishing operations in New York waters, but who live in and bring their product to Noank, and who take out no permit from this Commission.
The Acts of 1907 require lobster fishermen to furnish statistics of the fishery, and we find, at that time, 247 people engaged in lobster fishing, with a product of 391,203 pounds of lobsters, valued at $56,475.00. The statistics for 1912 show 498 permits issued by the Commission. The produce amounting to 514,579 pounds of lobsters at a value of $76,986.00. This increase, perhaps, serves as an index to the extension of the fishery.
- Connecticut Lobster Fishery Observations 1911-1912 -
NEW HAVEN.—“ Not many lobsters this year. There is quite a few small lobster. No egg lobsters have been caught in three years.”
NIANTIC.—“Lobsters scarce; more small ones than last year.”
MADISON.—“ I have noticed a large number of very small lobsters the whole season for taking in deep water. Egg lobsters are quite plentiful now, and these I find in shoal water close to the shore.”
MYSTIC.—“ Large lobsters have been very scarce. Small lobsters from four to seven inches long have been plentiful.”
GUILFORD.—“ The marked increase of small lobsters is very gratifying and is sufficient proof that the hatchery is one of the greatest institutions in the State, and I shall do all I can to help the Commissioners of Fisheries and Game in the protection and propagation.”
EAST RIVER.—“ A large number of very small lobsters.”
BRANFORD.—“ Early in the season lobsters seemed to be plentiful enough, but towards the end they became scarce. there are a lot of undersize lobsters in this vicinity which I think will be of size next season. Most of these seem to be perfect and not injured in any way. These undersize lobsters seem to stay in one place.”
CLINTON.— “Small lobsters have seemed more plentiful for the last two seasons, but it may be because there are fewer big ones. Little ones are not apt to get into pots when there are large ones around.”
COS COB.—“ Large quantities of small lobsters this year. More than usual.”

ROWAYTON.—“ I found plenty of small lobsters, but the large ones were scarce.”
NOANK.—“The Sound off Noank was full of small lobsters all summer, from two to four inches long.”
STONY CREEK. —“ I find a large number of very small lobsters the past two years of a size that I have not caught at any time previous to last year. Have fished lobsters about 18 years. My report includes last fall after the report was sent in, as I lobstered to December 1st.”
WESTBROOK.—“There were lots of small lobsters. Should be better next season.”
WATERFORD.—“ The lobsters were more than last year. There have been more small lobsters this year than I have seen before in eight years, so it looks more encouraging than it was for four years. Lots of small ones.”
STONINGTON.—“ Lobsters were few, that is large ones, but there were a large number of short ones and a large number of them from five to seven inches long.”
STAMFORD.—“ I have found lobsters very scarce. Plenty of small ones not fit to sell.”
Report of the NOANK Lobster Hatchery 1911-1912
Noank Station. In procuring the eggs for the operation of this Station the same general policy has been pursued as heretofore, by purchasing the adult lobster with the egg attached. These were collected from the fishermen the entire length of the coast, who are paid the full market price. After the eggs have been removed and placed in the hatching jars, the parent lobsters are returned to the waters of Long Island Sound, as near the same locality as possible from which they were taken.
During the biennial period, 1,474 ripe egg lobsters have been collected, from which 25,585,990 eggs were obtained, resulting in the hatching of 22, 750,000 fry which was planted in the coast waters.
During this same period, there were also collected 1,586 green egg lobsters, making a total of 3,060 egg-bearing lobsters collected, of which number 1,586 were held in cars during the winters, and the balance, 536, were returned to the water.
In the seven years of the operation of this hatchery, 208,761,870 fry have been hatched and liberated.
The lobster fishery in the State of Maine is the largest in the United States, and nearly 14,000 egg lobsters were collected the past season for the Federal hatchery at Boothbay Harbor. This is the largest collection ever made in one season. Conditions in the other New England States indicate a material decrease in the egg lobster collections with a corresponding reduction in hatcheries output.
The Noank Station* was visited by a representative of a foreign country who showed much interest in the hatching operations at this station. Your Commission supplied several adult lobsters to the Wickford Experiment Station* in order that this representative could observe the practical methods as conducted by the Rhode Island Commission.
[Note - *
These were often referred to as Marine Experiment Stations modeled after land prototypes, The Agriculture Experimentation Concept. The NOANK and Wickford stations operated the lobster hatcheries - Tim Visel]
Twenty-eighth Report of the
Commissioner of Sea and Shore Fisheries
of the State of Maine: 1903 - 1904
The U. S. Fish Commission has assisted this department by making collections for a part of the season in the western section of the State waters. It has also secured an artificial saltwater reserve in Lincoln county and is experimenting in the keeping of lobsters therein, awaiting transportation to the hatchery, and for other purposes of observation and investigation under natural conditions.
The following report for the two years 1903 and 1904 shows the magnitude and importance of this duty performed by the "Sea Gull," and it will be interesting to learn as to the collection and dispersing of the lobsters, and millions of fry hatched from them and returned to our waters. Account of purchase from fishermen of egg-bearing lobsters, and disposition for the year 1903.
Number purchased from March to November 30 14,173
Transported to U. S. Hatchery at Gloucester, Mass., for scientific investigation and propagation of eggs: 1,925. The lobsters were later returned and liberated in Maine waters. Impounded at the U. S. Reserve in Bristol, Lincoln County to be cared for by U. S. officials: 6,801. These were in the following spring taken to the Gloucester, Mass., hatchery, the eggs hatched, and the mother lobsters all returned and liberated near the place of purchase. Number liberated at time and place of purchase 5,447
The young hatched from the above eggs were cared for at the Gloucester hatchery and were subsequently brought here and deposited to the number of 32,700,000 eggs, as will appear by reference to the following table for 1903.
Date of Plant Number fry planted Point of Deposit 1903.
June 5 1,200,000 Casco Bay, near north shore, Great Diamond Island.
June 10 1,500,000 Portland Harbor, In cove northwest of Portland Head Lt. Casco
June 11 1,500,000 Casco Bay, in a cove near the south shore of Mackey's Island.
June 12 1,500,000 Casco Bay, in a cove near the north shore of Cushings Island.
June 13 1,500,000 Casco Bay, east side entrance to Fore River.
June 15 1,500,000 Casco Bay, south shore Clapboard Island.
June 16 1,500,000 Casco Bay, Diamond Island Cove.
June 17 1,500,000 Casco Bay, near north shore Half Way Rock.
June 19 1,000,000 Maine Coast, off Cape Porpoise.
June 19 1,000,000 Maine Coast, north shore, Wood Island.
June 19 500,000 Maine Coast, south shore, Small Point.
June 19 1,000,000 Maine Coast, east shore, Pemaquid Point.
June 19 1,000,000 Maine Coast, Port Clyd
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