Lobstering ban considered on Long Island

July 16, 2010 3:24:09 PM PDT
There were once thirty-nine lobstermen in Northport Harbor. Now, there are two. In a matter of months, even they might be gone.

"That's all I ever did. I never had a land job. Now, all of the sudden, they're going to tell me that I can't do what I love to do," Pete Ringen said.

Ringen has been catching lobsters for forty-two years, but may be forced to give it up.

Marine biologists say Long Island Sound lobsters are struggling. They are victims of rising sea temperatures that appear to hinder reproduction.

"There are no recruits coming in. No baby lobsters to replace the bigger ones that are coming out, and that's what really has most of the scientists concerned," Jim Gilmore, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Officials are considering a five-year moratorium on lobstering in Long Island Sound and the waters south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Public hearings are expected in the fall and an official decision has yet to be made.

The ban could help the lobster population recover, but many lobstermen dispute the government's findings.

"They're wrong. Just leave it alone. That's all we ask. Leave it alone. It will take care of itself," Ringen said.

Experts are hoping a moratorium would do for lobsters what it did for striped bass. After eight years, the ban was lifted. And there are now more striped bass in Long Island Sound than anyone can remember.