July 10, 2012

DEEP sinks claws into studying lobster health

Connecticut's environmental agency is launching an indepth study into the degree to which pesticides are responsible for the declining lobster population in Long Island Sound, authorities say.

Preliminary studies indicate a potential correlation between pesticides used to control mosquitoes and other pests and lobster landings in the sound that have declined from 3.7 million pounds in 1998 to just 142,000 pounds in 2011, the agency said.

"We are now developing the procedures and protocols for a study that will rely on a Sound-wide sampling of lobsters and sophisticated laboratory tests to obtain a better understanding of why this species - and an industry it has historically supported – is now in danger of collapse in Long Island Sound," DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said in a statement Tuesday.

Working with UConn's Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Laboratory, DEEP scientists' testing and analysis will focus on stress factors, such as high water temperatures or chemical contaminants that may be contributing to the decline of the lobster population, Esty said.

The 2012 legislative session generated a bill the House approved to restrict the use of the pesticide methoprene, a larvicide used to combat mosquitoes, in coastal areas, DEEP said. This legislation did not come to a vote in the state Senate.

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