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Lobster traps going high tech
Date:3/9/2009

New England lobstermen have gone high tech by adding low-cost instruments to their lobster pots that record bottom temperature and provide data that could help improve ocean circulation models in the Gulf of Maine.

Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps, or eMOLT, is a partnership involving NOAA, the Maine, Massachusetts, Downeast and Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Associations, the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, and the Marine Science Department at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) in Portland, Maine.

The data collected from temperature sensors on the lobster pots and from GPS surface drifters deployed as part of the eMOLT program help ocean circulation modelers better understand processes in the Gulf of Maine, such as how lobster larvae and other planktonic animals and plants, including those that cause harmful algal blooms, drift and settle. This information may also help determine how ocean currents disperse, condense and transport pollutants, invasive species, and food for whales in portions of the Gulf of Maine.

"Local fishermen already spend their days at sea, have the biggest stake in preserving our coastal marine resources, and are the most knowledgeable of the local waters," said Jim Manning, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Laboratory of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), part of NOAA's Fisheries Service. "They are interested, curious and enthusiastic to learn more about lobster science and the environment. It seemed like a natural fit, a win-win situation."

Manning got the idea for eMOLT while conducting research on Georges Bank in the 1990s and seeing many lobster boats in the area. In 1995, he deployed some large moorings to collect oceanographic data, but soon recognized that this was a very expensive effort in terms of time and money. He realized lobstermen had many moorings of their own in the area at fixed locations and depths which could provide needed time-series data at more site
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Contact: Shelley Dawicki
Shelley.Dawicki@noaa.gov
508-495-2378
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Source:Eurekalert

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