Northeast
A black sea bass lies in a lobster trap next to a lobster after being caught off midcoast Maine in this undated photo. Photo courtesy of Chris Jamison.

Black sea bass gobbling up lobsters

Lobstermen’s Association president says fish devour young lobsters, calls for quota boost.

Black sea bass, a saltwater fish taken commercially and recreationally in Massachusetts, have increased in number throughout southern New England waters and rattled the lobster industry with their wolfish appetites.

“They feed aggressively,” Rutgers University marine biologist Olaf Jensen said. “They’re not picky eaters. If it’s the right size and it’s alive, they’ll eat it.”

The young of New England’s iconic crustacean fall into the right size category. “Black sea bass love little lobsters,” Michael Armstrong, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, said.

That’s of deep concern to Beth Casoni, president of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, who says lobster traps are being pillaged by these fish. They are often hauled up with the bass inside the traps, alongside lobsters they couldn’t fit in their mouths, she said. Even more concerning to Casoni is their alleged habit of picking off undersize lobsters tossed overboard by lobstermen.

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