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GLIN==> NYSG PR: Researchers Named Under $3.5 M. LI Sound Lobster ResearchInitiative

NOAA Fisheries, Connecticut, New York Sea Grant Programs announce research
$3.5 Million in Sound Research to Address Lobster Die-Offs

New York Sea Grant Contacts:
Jack Mattice, Director New York Sea Grant Program, (631) 632-6905
E-mail: jack.mattice@sunysb.edu
Antoinette Clemetson, New Sea Grant Lobster Outreach Specialist, (631)
E-mail: aoc5@cornell.edu
Barbara Branca, Communications Director, (631) 632-6956,
E-mail: Barbara.Branca@stonybrook.edu
Paul C. Focazio, New York Sea Grant Assistant Communicator, (631) 632-6910,
Email:  Paul.Focazio@stonybrook.edu

Connecticut Sea Grant Contacts:
Edward Monahan, Director Connecticut Sea Grant, (860) 405-9110, E-mail:
Nancy Balcom, Extension Program Leader, (860) 405-9107, E-mail:
Peg Van Patten, Communications Director, (860) 405-9141, E-mail:

NOAA Sea Grant Contacts:
Ben Sherman, Sea Grant National Media Relations, (202) 662-7095,
E-mail: Sherman@nasw.org
Jana Goldman, NOAA Research Public Affairs, (301) 713-2483
E-mail: jana.goldman@noaa.gov

NOAA Fisheries Contacts:
Teri Frady, NOAA Fisheries Public Information, NMFS Northeast Fisheries
Science Center
Phone: (508)495-2239; E-mail: tfrady@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu
Gordon Helm, NOAA Fisheries Public Affairs, Silver Spring, MD (301)
E-mail: gordon.j.helm@noaa.gov

WASHINGTON D.C., Thursday, June 28, 2001-- The National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS) and National Sea Grant College Program have announced the awarding
of $3.5 million in federal research grants to 14 science research teams in
seven states to determine the causes behind the 1999-2000 winter die-off of
the Long Island Sound lobster fishery.

The research is jointly-funded under the Long Island Sound Lobster
Initiative, an endeavor of Sea Grant programs in Connecticut and New York
along with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and
NMFS's Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

The Long Island Sound Lobster Initiative was formed after a July, 2000
Congressional allocation of  $6.6 million in federal funds to NOAA to
research the scientific and economic impacts of the die off.  Congress
directed that approximately $3.5 million of those federal funds be
dedicated for research investigating potential causes.

An additional $3.1 million in federal research funds have been allocated to
the States of Connecticut and New York for lobster resource monitoring and
assessment.  NMFS and Connecticut State Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) are sponsoring three additional research projects each.
The NMFS projects are funded with approximately $900,000 of the federal
money, and the DEP's projects are supported by one million dollars from the
State of Connecticut's Long Island Sound Research Fund.

New York and Connecticut Sea Grant both received $165,000 each in federal
funding to facilitate communication of the research findings to lobster
fishers, resource managers, and the public. Additional portions of the
federal money will be used to help mitigate the economic impacts on
affected lobster fishermen. Other collaborators include representatives of
Long Island Sound lobster fishing organizations and the US Environmental
Protection Agency.

The awards resulted from a national competition of research projects to
investigate the causes of mortality and shell disease in Long Island Sound
lobsters. The funded research will investigate many different factors on an
ecosystem-wide basis. These include disease-causing organisms, pesticides,
pollution, lobster crowding, water quality conditions including elevated
temperatures and changes in salinity, and environmental conditions such as
storm events.

"The lobster resource in Long Island Sound supports a multi-million dollar
bi-state fishery," said Bill Hogarth, Acting Administrator for NOAA's
National Marine Fisheries Service.  "Until 1999 the Sound was the nation's
number three lobster market, with an estimated annual haul of 11 million
pounds that generated approximately $45 million in revenue. This is one of
the reasons NOAA is so pleased to be able to help fund this important

In New York, lobsters are the most economically important marine species
harvested, while in Connecticut, lobsters are second only to bivalve
shellfish.  Catches fell in the fall of 1999 by as much as 90 percent,
forcing many of the Sound's more than 300 lobstermen into dry dock. There
has been some improvement since then, but officials still don't know what
caused the die off.

Responding to requests from the governors of both Connecticut and New York,
then Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley declared the lobster resource
in Long Island Sound a commercial fishing failure using the "resource
disaster" clauses of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act on January 26, 2000.

Lobsters, seawater, and sediments were tested for toxins, but nothing
unusual was found. Then, pathologists from the University of Connecticut
conducting necropsies on sick lobsters discovered parasitic paramoebae in
their nervous tissues. It was unclear, however, whether the paramoeba was
the primary cause of the lobster deaths, or whether other stressors were
also involved.

"These research projects represent the best of a national peer-reviewed
competition to address an issue of fundamental concern to our nation's
ability to ensure sustainable management of one of our most valuable
fisheries," said NOAA's National Sea Grant Program Director, Ronald Baird.
The selections were finalized by the Long Island Sound Lobster Research
Steering Committee, a group composed of scientists, fishery managers,
federal and state regulators, and representatives from the lobster fishing

"By working together, the New York and Connecticut Sea Grant programs, the
Connecticut DEP and NMFS have been able to put together an integrated,
cohesive research program. The New York DEC and Connecticut DEP are also
running monitoring programs that will contribute to the overall effort,"
says Jack Mattice, Director of New York's Sea Grant Program. "Our hope is
that the initiative's research projects will provide evidence to select the
real causes among the many potential causes of the 1999-2000 lobster

The two Sea Grant programs will sponsor efforts to keep the lobster
fishermen, resource managers and the public informed about how the research
is progressing. New York Sea Grant lobster outreach specialist Antoinette
Clemetson will team with Connecticut Sea Grant Extension Leader Nancy
Balcom and the communication staffs of the two Sea Grant programs to keep
the lines of communications open between the scientists and the
stakeholders through a series of newsletter updates, websites, briefings,
and workshops coordinated between the two state Sea Grant programs.

Notes Clemetson, "Research is a dynamic and collaborative effort and the
program's success depends on the lobster fishing community's willingness to
cooperate with the scientists and vice versa."

Both programs have jointly developed background material on the lobster
issues, creating a special informational website which can be accessed at:


The funded projects address areas of shellfish disease, environmental
stressors including water quality and pesticides, lobster biology,
technological tools for scientific research and management assessments

New York Sea Grant Administered Projects:

Title: "Relationship Between American Lobster Mortality in LIS and
Prevailing Water Column Conditions"
2-Yr. Funding Totals: $135,835 (Sea Grant); $48,965 (Matching)
Robert E. Wilson, Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University
Phone: (631) 632-8689; E-mail: Robert.Wilson@sunysb.edu
R. Lawrence Swanson, Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook
Phone: (631) 632-8704; E-mail: Robert.Swanson@sunysb.edu
Duane E. Waliser, Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University
Phone: (631) 632-8647; E-mail: Duane.Waliser@sunysb.edu

Wilson, Swanson and Waliser will examine water quality factors such as
temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and pollutants with respect to the
lobster mortalities. The lobsters are vulnerable to stress and sometimes
mortality when exposed to unfavorable environmental conditions, especially
during the molt cycle. Environmental factors can act singularly or in
combination to cause sub-lethal stress that increases sensitivity to events
that would normally be tolerated. Significantly elevated bottom
temperatures during the summer and fall of 1999 lead us to focus primarily
on co-variations in temperature and dissolved oxygen.

Title: "Effects of Temperature and Body Size on Metabolic Stress in LIS
2-Yr. Funding Totals: $189,514 (Sea Grant); $68,002 (Matching)
Glenn Lopez, Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University
Phone: (631) 632-8660; E-mail: Glenn.Lopez@sunysb.edu
Robert M. Cerrato, Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University
Phone: (631) 632-8666; E-mail- Robert.Cerrato@sunysb.edu

Lopez and Cerrato will try to determine to what extent high summer
temperatures in Long Island Sound's bottom waters have negative impacts on
lobsters and if larger lobsters are more susceptible to temperature stress
than smaller ones. The results of their lab studies may be used to predict
the effects of long term changes in summer temperatures on the health of
the LIS lobster population. The study will shed light on normal patterns of
lobster stress and mortality as well as the extraordinary mortality event
of fall 1999.

Title: "Effects of Pesticides of Lobster Health: Trace Level Measurements
and Toxicological Assessment at Environmentally Realistic Concentrations"
2-Yr. Funding Totals: $200,031 (Sea Grant); $69,436 (Matching)
Anne E. McElroy, Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University
Phone: (631) 632-8488; E-mail: Anne.McElroy@sunysb.edu
Bruce J. Brownawell, Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook
Phone: (631) 632-8658; E-mail: Bruce.Brownawell@sunysb.edu

McElroy and Brownawell will address the potential link between pesticide
use and lobster mortality. They will measure mortality and immune response
in larval and juvenile lobsters exposed to environmentally realistic levels
of pesticides (Malathion, Methoprene, and selected pyrethroids such as
Anvil and Scourge). The team will also develop ways to measure levels of
these pesticides and their breakdown products in seawater, sediment, and
possibly lobster tissues. They are particularly interested in sampling
water after storm events when concentrations may be highest.  The results
of this study should provide a strong indication whether or not pesticide
use is likely to contribute to degraded lobster health in Long Island
Sound. This study will also shed light on the effects of temperature on the
immune response of young lobsters.

Title: "Development of an Assay for Phagocytic Activity in the Immune
System of Lobsters"
2-Yr. Funding Totals: $156,968 (Sea Grant); $91,609 (Matching)
Jan Factor, Division of Natural Sciences, SUNY Purchase
Phone: (914) 251-6659; E-mail: jfactor@purvid.purchase.edu

Factor will look at how lobsters defend themselves against infection and
disease. He will seek to develop methods that will allow the assessment of
cellular defenses against infection and disease after sub-lethal exposure
to environmental stresses and toxic substances. Research may lead to an
explanation of the recent mortalities by enabling assessment of impacts on
the immune system that may lead to lethal infections.

Title: "Immunological Health of Lobsters: Assays and Applications"
2-Yr. Funding Totals: $215,614 (Sea Grant); $100,585 (Matching)
Robert S. Anderson, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Center for
Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland
Phone: (410) 326-7247; E-mail: anderson@cbl.cees.edu

Anderson will use biotechnology tools to measure the blood cell-related
defense system of the lobster against disease. This research will lay the
groundwork for discerning changes in immune response due to toxicity or
other environmental stressors.

Title: "Bacterial Assemblages Involved in the Development and Progression
of Shell Disease in the American Lobster, Homarus americanus"
2-Yr. Funding Totals: $238,117 (Sea Grant); $100,903 (Matching)
Andrei Chistoserdov, Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook
Phone: (631) 632-9233; E-mail: Andrei.Chistoserdov@sunysb.edu
Roxanna Smolowitz, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
Phone: (508) 289-7400; E-mail: rsmol@mbl.edu

By comparing shell disease in lobsters from Eastern Long Island Sound with
those from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, Chistoserdov and Smolowitz will
seek to identify the kinds of bacteria that cause lobster shell disease.
The team will also design a set of specific probes that will be used to
test for such pathogens.

Connecticut Sea Grant Administered Projects:

Title: Stress Indicators in Lobsters: Hormones and Heat Shock Proteins
2-Yr. Funding Totals: $170,115 (Sea Grant); Matching Funds: $155,197
Ernest S. Chang, Bodega Marine Laboratory, Univ. California  Davis
Phone: (707) 875-2061; E-mail: eschang@ucdavis.edu

Chang will investigate the relative impacts of stresses from environmental
factors (like  temperature and salinity), biological factors (including
bacteria and protozoa), and human-caused stresses (pesticides). Lobsters
exposed to these stresses will be examined for changes in stress proteins
and steroid molting hormones.

Title: Development of assays for the evaluation of immune functions of the
American Lobster (Homarus americanus) as a tool for health assessment
2-Yr. Funding Totals: $198,271(Sea Grant), Matching Funds: $67,734
Sylvain DeGuise, and Co-investigators Richard A. French and Salvatore
Frasca, Jr.,
The Dept. of Pathobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Phone: (860) 486-0850; E-mail: sdeguise@canr.uconn.edu

The UConn Pathobiology team will develop new tools to use in evaluating how
immune systems work in both sick and healthy lobsters. They will expose
lobsters to various chemicals and other stressors and measure the response
of the immune system in each case.

Title: Determination of the toxicity and sublethal effects of selected
pesticides on the American Lobster (Homarus  Americanus)
2-Yr. Funding: $140,000 (Sea Grant), Matching Funds: $70,201
Sylvain De Guise, Richard A. French, Christopher Perkins, University of
Connecticut, Storrs
Phone: (860) 486-0850; E-mail: sdeguise@canr.uconn.edu

The research team will expose lobsters to malathion, resmethrin, and
methoprene, three pesticides used in the region to control mosquitoes after
West Nile virus was found. The subtle effects of low levels of pesticides
on the lobster immune system will be measured, in addition to high level
exposures, to determine toxicity.

Title: Phenotypic and Molecular Identification of Environmental Specimens
of the Genus Paramoeba Associated with Lobster Mortality Events
2-Yr. Funding: $299,761 (Sea Grant), Matching Funds: $100,477
Patrick M. Gillevet, George Mason University, Fairfax VA
Phone:  (703) 993-1057, E-mail: gillevet@ib3.gmu.edu
Charles J. O'Kelly, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay
Harbor, ME
Phone: (207) 633-9616, E-mail: cokelly@bigelow.org
Thomas A. Nerad, American Type Culture Collection, Mannassas, VA
Phone: (703) 365-2722, E-mail: nerad@atcc.org
Thomas K. Sawyer, Rescon Associates, Inc. Turtle Cove. Royal Oak, MD
410-745-5669, E-mail: rescon@goeaston.net

Gillevet will use a combination of methods to isolate and characterize the
paramoeba that has been identified in Long Island Sound lobsters. Gillevet
and O'Kelley hope to develop a sensitive "fingerprinting" tool that will
detect this paramoeba in the environment.

Title: Acute Effects of Methoprene on Survival, Cuticular Morphogenesis and
Shell Biosynthesis in the American Lobster, Homarus americanus
2-Yr Funding: $230,000 (Sea Grant) Matching Funds: $100,000
Michael  N. Horst, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon GA
Phone: (478) 301-2558 E-mail: horst_mn@mercer.edu

Anna N. Walker, Department of Pathology, Mercer University, Macon, GA
Phone: (478) 301-4067, E-mail: walker_an@mercer.edu
Thomas G. Wilson, Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort
Collins, CO
Phone: (970) 491-2542,  E-mail: twilson@lamar.colostate.edu
Parshall B. Bush, Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories,
University of Georgia, Athens
Phone:  TBA  E-mail: pbush@arches.uga.edu
Timothy E. Miller, Darling Marine Center, University of Maine, Bristol, ME
Phone: (207) 563-3146 ext. 218, E-mail: TBA
Ernest S. Chang, Professor, Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of
Phone: (707) 875-2061, E-mail: eschang@ucdavis.edu
Timothy E. Miller, Laboratory Manager, Darling Marine Center, University of
Maine, Bristol, ME
Phone: (207) 563-3146 x218, E-mail: TEMiller@maine.edu
Robert L. Vogel, Department of Community Medicine, Mercer University School
of Medicine, Macon, GA
Phone: (912) 784-3581, E-Mail: vogel.robert@mccg.org

Horst has hypothesized that methoprene could kill lobsters and cause
biochemical changes in juvenile and adult lobsters. His team will study the
effects a range of doses have on nerve, skin, and pancreatic cells, shell

Title: Oligonucleotide-based Detection of  Pathogenic  Paramoeba Species
2-Yr. Funding: $113,587 (Sea Grant) Matching Funds: $37,681
Rebecca J. Gast, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA
Phone:  (508) 289-3209, E-mail: rgast@whoi.edu

This research will seek to develop a method to facilitate the detection of
paramoeba  in animal tissues, water, and sediment samples.  Using the new
method, the researchers will perform a year-long sampling of Long Island
Sound to analyze the paramoeba's fluctuation and distribution.

National Marine Fisheries Service Administered Projects:

Title: Exposure of Lobsters to the Varied Chemical and Biological
Environment of Long Island Sound
2-Yr. Funding: $310,000  (NOAA/NMFS)
Anthony Paulson, NOAA Fisheries, Howard Laboratory, Sandy Hook, NJ
Phone: 732.872.3012 E-mail: Anthony.Paulson@noaa.gov
Ashok Deshpande,  NOAA Fisheries, Howard Laboratory, Sandy Hook, NJ
Phone:  732.872.3043 E-mail: Ashok.Deshpande@noaa.gov
Andrew Draxler,  NOAA Fisheries, Howard Laboratory, Sandy Hook, NJ
Phone: 732.872.3054, E-mail: Andrew.Draxler@noaa.gov

Paulson, Deshpande, and Draxler will document lobster responses to the
chemical and biological conditions of Long Island Sound in an attempt to
uncover any direct relationship between lobster health and their
environment. The experiment will examine the health of lobsters under
ambient Long Island Sound conditions during the time period when lobsters
are believed to be most susceptible to these conditions.

Lobsters taken from uncontaminated regions will be evaluated, then placed
in cages at six sites around western and central Long Island Sound.  The
sites will be chosen to span a variety of environmental conditions.   For
four weeks, scientists will monitor the cages, routinely recover lobsters
from each site, and evaluate them for changes attributable to exposure to
naturally occurring  biogechemicals (such as ammonia and sulfide) as well
as to contaminants.   Lobster health will be assessed by bacterial
determinations, and physiological condition. A limited number of the
exposed lobsters will also undergo pathological examination.

Title: Effects of Environmental Stressors on Disease Susceptibility in
Lobsters: A controlled Laboratory Story
2-Yr. Funding:   $301,735   (NOAA/NMFS)
Richard Robolm, NOAA Fisheries Laboratory, Milford, CT
Phone: 203.579.7037, E-mail: Richard.Robohm@noaa.gov
Andrew Draxler,  NOAA Fisheries, Howard Laboratory, Sandy Hook, NJ
Phone: 732.872.3054, E-mail: Andrew.Draxler@noaa.gov

Robohm and Draxler will investigate the effects of environmental stressors
on the susceptibility of lobsters to pathogens.  The work will test whether
depressed habitat quality may have compromised lobsters' immune systems and
contributed to the die-off. This  laboratory experiment.  The researchers
will expose healthy lobsters to two bacterial pathogens in the presence of
varying levels of environmentally relevant biogeochemicals such as sulfide
and ammonia as well as environmental conditions such as low oxygen and
increased temperatures.  After the exposures, changes in bacterial numbers
and five, lobster, immune-system indices will be measured.  The protocol
also will allow testing of stressors on the growth of a parasitic amoeba in
lobsters, should the amoeba be cultured successfully by other researchers.

A third NOAA Fisheries project will be funded at a later date.

                               --- 30 ---

Paul C. Focazio, Assistant Communicator / Web Master
New York Sea Grant
115 Discovery Hall
SUNY at Stony Brook
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5001
Phone: 631-632-6910
Fax: 631-632-6917
E-mail: Paul.Focazio@stonybrook.edu
Internet: http://www.nyseagrant.org

New York Sea Grant- 30 Years of "Bringing Science to the Shore"

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