Date of Award

12-2005

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Marine Biology

Advisor

Yong Chen

Second Committee Member

James A. Wilson

Third Committee Member

James D. McCleave

Abstract

Effective management of benthic invertebrate species is difficult due to the dynamic nature of aquatic systems. For new and developing fisheries, there is a critical period of time when a rational management plan is needed to prevent over-exploitation. The sea cucumber fishery is expanding in Maine and life history characteristics such as slow growth and aggregate distribution contribute to the real danger of overfishing and even collapse before we understand enough about the animal's biology and the socio-economics of the industry to institute effective management. This thesis first considers the complex adaptive nature of our world and its implications for sound policy as well as the weaknesses with current management practices. Next I discuss institutions and common pool resources and the lessons from past successes and failures. Finally, it examines the economics and social factors that are critical to the Maine Sea Cucumber industry in Maine. The next section focuses on the biology of C. frondosa by investigating key biological variables to determine current status of the population and possible impacts of harvesting pressure. A preliminary study identified the best tagging procedures available for the study of growth and movement and another investigation was undertaken to observe and quantify changes in gonad structures over two reproductive seasons in the Gulf of Maine. Additionally, by monitoring changes in gonad weight, egg-and yield-per-recruit models were created to estimate biological reference points for this species using three different estimates of natural mortality and growth. Finally, through cooperative research, fishermen participated in a large-scale survey of the population in Frenchman and Narraguagus Bays to quantify the spatial and temporal distribution of C.frondosa in the heavily targeted areas of the Gulf of Maine. Careful consideration of the life history dynamics of C. frondosa and the unique characteristics of the developing industry, made it possible to come up with an optimal management strategy for the newly harvested species. This multidisciplinary approach allowed the unique opportunity to develop recommendations for management institutions, which are sound both biologically and socio-economically.

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