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A mixed method approach to understanding the graying of Maine's lobster fleet

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The American lobster, Homarus americanus H. Milne-Edwards, 1837, fishery is the most valuable commercial fishery in the state of Maine (United States), and contributes more than US$666 million to the global market. Although lobster landings are at a historically high level, scientists have identified a myriad of threats that raise concern about the future of this iconic fishery. Numerous literature focuses on the ecological threats to the American lobster fishery, but the changing demographics of lobstermen is understudied. The graying of the fleet has significant implications for the social resilience of the fishery as it can reduce human capital necessary for responding to social and ecological change. An analysis of license data revealed that the average age of lobstermen in this fishery is increasing and fewer young lobstermen are entering the fishery, a pattern that is consistent with the graying of the fleet seen elsewhere. Oral history interviews further reveal insight into drivers contributing to the graying of the fleet. They can also help aid in the resilience of the fishery by protecting the social memory needed for adaptive behavior. Limited entry, escalating costs of entry, and norms that limit exit all contribute to graying of the fleet in this fishery. Further research is needed to better understand potential impacts that graying on the fleet may have on lobstermen behavior and adaptive strategies, and how this may impact fishery performance and resilience.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, 5741 Libby Hall, Orono, Maine 04469;, Email: [email protected] 2: School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, 5741 Libby Hall, Orono, Maine 04469

Publication date: 01 July 2018

This article was made available online on 24 May 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "A mixed method approach to understanding the graying of Maine’s lobster fleet".

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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