Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Biology


Teresa Johnson and Yong Chen

Second Committee Member

Walter Golet

Third Committee Member

Keith Evans

Additional Committee Members

Burton Shank


The American lobster (Homarus americanus) supports the most valuable single species fishery in the US. Lobster landings have been increasing steadily for the last three decades, but before that landings were more variable. The high value of the lobster fishery combined with the decline of other commercially important species in this region has created increasing dependence on the resource, and previous research questions the resilience of the fishery in the face of social and environmental changes.

Important lobster life history processes, including migration patterns, growth rates, and reproduction, are driven by ocean bottom temperature, which creates a strong seasonal cycle in the fishery; however, warming waters are causing changes to lobster habitat which impact lobster phenology and is causing a shift in the seasonal dynamics of the fishery. Our research aimed to determine if seasonality in the lobster fishery in Maine is changing, specifically how it is changing along the coast. We use modeling to evaluate the changing seasonal dynamics of the fishery at the county level using historical monthly lobster landings. Our results show that the seasonal timing of landings is changing significantly, and changes are not uniform across counties.

Previous research has shown that the Maine lobster fishery is experiencing graying of the fleet and that differences in fishing experience between generations of harvesters can influence perceptions and strategies for dealing with change important to social resilience. Our goal was to evaluate social resilience of lobster harvesters through an analysis of generational differences. Through analysis of a mail survey, we examined how perceptions about management, well-being, and the future and strategies for investment and operation differed between generations. We found that across generations, while views on management regulations were similar, there were different strategies for investment and operation, as well as different perceptions about the future and personal well-being.

This thesis contributes information needed to create a better understanding of both the lobster stock and the social dimensions of the system in the face of threats to the fishery. The Gulf of Maine is changing rapidly, and it is critical to understand how these changes will impact the Maine lobster fishery in order to better prepare for and adapt to future changes.