2021 CEQ Annual Report


Clamming and Oystering               Piping Plovers               Raptors               Forest Birds                State-Listed Species

Lobster and Fishes of Long Island Sound

Climate Change Indicator

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Long Island Sound’s species are trending towards animals that prefer warm water.


Lobster, which thrive in cold water, have become less common in Connecticut waters. Lobster landings in the state have declined dramatically from a high of over 3.7 million pounds in 1998 to a low of approximately  111,000 pounds in both 2018 and 2019 – almost a 97 percent drop.  In 2020, lobster landings increased to approximately 151,000 pounds.43

Researchers investigated several possible causes for the dramatic downturn in lobster populations since 1998 including disease, changes in water quality, changes in climatic conditions and other human impacts to Long Island Sound, such as the presence of pesticides. Scientists did not detect pesticides in lobsters collected in 2014,44 leaving the warming waters as the most likely cause for Connecticut's lobster decline.

The decline in lobsters was also confirmed by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) spring and fall trawl surveys. DEEP surveys marine fish, squid and lobster populations, usually every spring and fall, by towing nets from a research vessel.* The chart shows the average number of fish species caught in each tow during the spring and fall surveys combined. The well-documented trend toward species that favor warm water is apparent.45

The impacts of warmer water temperatures have had mixed effects on finfish found in Connecticut waters. As depicted above, the trend indicates that the mean number of warm-adapted species increased significantly while the average number of cold-adapted species declined since 1985. Overall, finfish diversity in Long Island Sound remains high, indicating that the Sound is healthy.**


Technical Note: *Data from 2010 and 2020 are missing because no fall and/or spring survey were conducted those years. **Finfish species captured in the Connecticut DEEP Long Island Sound Trawl Survey were divided into adaptation groups based on their temperature tolerance and seasonal spawning habits.


43 NOAA, Commercial Fisheries Landings, 2020; www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/sustainable-fisheries/commercial-fisheries-landings.
44 DEEP, Investigating the Presence of Pesticides in American Lobster from Long Island Sound”, 2016; portal.ct.gov/-/media/DEEP/fishing/fisheries_management/CTDEEPInvestigatingthepresenceofpesticidesinAmericanlobsterfromLongIslandSoundpdf.pdf.
45 DEEP, Division of Marine Fisheries; personal communication from K. Gottschall, February 28, 2022.