Forecasting the seasonal timing of Maine's lobster fishery
Mills, Katherine E.
Pershing, Andrew J.
Hernández, Christina M.
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The fishery for American lobster is currently the highest-valued commercial fishery in the United States, worth over US$620 million in dockside value in 2015. During a marine heat wave in 2012, the fishery was disrupted by the early warming of spring ocean temperatures and subsequent influx of lobster landings. This situation resulted in a price collapse, as the supply chain was not prepared for the early and abundant landings of lobsters. Motivated by this series of events, we have developed a forecast of when the Maine (USA) lobster fishery will shift into its high volume summer landings period. The forecast uses a regression approach to relate spring ocean temperatures derived from four NERACOOS buoys along the coast of Maine to the start day of the high landings period of the fishery. Tested against conditions in past years, the forecast is able to predict the start day to within 1 week of the actual start, and the forecast can be issued 3–4 months prior to the onset of the high-landings period, providing valuable lead-time for the fishery and its associated supply chain to prepare for the upcoming season. Forecast results are conveyed in a probabilistic manner and are updated weekly over a 6-week forecasting period so that users can assess the certainty and consistency of the forecast and factor the uncertainty into their use of the information in a given year. By focusing on the timing of events, this type of seasonal forecast provides climate-relevant information to users at time scales that are meaningful for operational decisions. As climate change alters seasonal phenology and reduces the reliability of past experience as a guide for future expectations, this type of forecast can enable fishing industry participants to better adjust to and prepare for operating in the context of climate change.
© The Author(s), 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Frontiers in Marine Science 4 (2017): 337, doi:10.3389/fmars.2017.00337.
Suggested CitationFrontiers in Marine Science 4 (2017): 337
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