This is an archived forecast for the 2015 lobster forecast. For this year's forecast, please visit: http://www.gmri.org/our-work/research/projects/gulf-maine-lobster-foreca...
We are developing a forecast of when the Maine lobster fishery will shift into its high-landings mode in an effort to ensure a successful lobster season this summer. In 2012, unusually warm waters in the Gulf of Maine caused lobsters to migrate inshore and molt earlier than usual, which created a glut of lobsters on the market and deflation of prices (because distributors and processors were not prepared for so much product). Our goal is to enable the industry to be more prepared for the coming lobster season with advance notice of its expected timing.
The figure below represents last year's prediction, as of April 15, 2015.
Official Forecast (2015)
After evaluating predictive ability using data from past years, we determined that the reliability of our forecast system peaks in mid-April. Therefore, we are declaring this to be our “official” forecast for 2015. We will continue to monitor water temperatures, but unless there is dramatic warming or cooling, we are unlikely to update our prediction. On April 15th, 2015, temperatures in the Gulf of Maine are colder than average, leading our forecast model to show that the most likely outcome is a late year for the lobster fishery. We consider a normal lobster summer to start between July 3 and 10. The best information available to us from buoy temperatures suggests that there is a 43% chance that the fishery will turn on one week late, a 35% chance that it will start during the normal week, a 20% chance that it will start two weeks late, a 1% chance that it will start three weeks late and a 1% chance that it will start one week early. We will continue to monitor temperatures for the next few weeks to determine if any drastic changes occur to require a revision of this forecast.
Most similar year: 2005
In 2005, the high-landings season started one week later than normal. The delayed opening of the season caused total annual landings to be slightly lower than in normal years, and these two occurrences (lower supply and delayed supply) caused prices to be a bit higher. It’s hard to determine how these two effects might balance out in terms of annual revenue, especially since the number of participants in the fishery has increased since 2005.
Our forecast is generated using water temperatures measured at a depth of 164 ft (50m) at several buoys from the NERACOOS array. Because New England had a very mild autumn and early winter, the ocean was very warm at the beginning of January. The extremely cold conditions that we experienced during February dropped the temperatures down to some of the coldest that the NERACOOS buoys have recorded since 2001! Those temperatures reached a minimum in late February, started to rise back towards the 2001-2014 average for two weeks, and since then have been remaining colder than average. It is normal to have some fluctuations during the spring transition that we are currently experiencing.
If you’d like to look at how water temperatures this year compare to past years in more detail, please visit the NERACOOS climatology viewer.
Yearly Forecasts so far
Since March 4th, we have seen some fluctuations in the most likely predicted start day, but in general the model has been indicating that this year will be normal or somewhat late.
On April 15th, we released our “official” forecast, because the predictive ability of our model and, therefore, our confidence in the forecast, are highest on that day. The week of April 22nd saw a slightly changed forecast, but this week’s forecast looks like it’s falling right in line with the official forecast. With the best information available to us, it appears that the lobster fishery will turn on just slightly later than normal, during the week of July 10th-17th. We look forward to seeing how the year unfolds, and revising our methods for next year.
For more information about how we generate these forecasts, please download the Lobster Forecast Methods document!
Please contact Kathy Mills with any feedback on these forecasts at [email protected].
This project is funded by: