YARMOUTH, Maine (AP) -- Scientists say the number of baby lobsters settling off the rocky coast of Maine continues to steadily decline - possibly foreshadowing an end to the recent record catches that have boosted New England's lobster fishery.
The University of Maine's American Lobster Settlement Index shows that all 11 of the baby lobster settlement areas it tracks in the Gulf of Maine had fewer first-year lobsters in 2013 than 2011. All 11 areas show less than half their 2007 levels. Lobsters typically take about eight years to reach the legal harvesting size.
The downward trend has lobstermen, retailers, state officials and ocean scientists concerned that the impact could soon be felt on dinner tables nationwide. Maine lobsters were 85 percent of the nation's catch in 2012.