Observed size distribution changes in American lobsters over a 12-year period in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada

Svenja Koepper, Crawford W. Revie, Henrik Stryhn, Shannon Scott-Tibbetts, Krishna K. Thakur

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Size distribution and size frequency information of American lobsters (Homarus americanus) are often used to help estimate the age distributions, and reproductive output for the species and to guide the determination of appropriate minimum legal sizes for the fishery. This study used truncated linear regression models to estimate the effects of sampling year, sampling month, lobster sex and water depth on the lobster size. A dataset of almost 130,000 trap–caught lobsters from the two most important lobster fishing areas of Atlantic Canada collected over a 12-year period (2004–2015) was analyzed. It was shown that truncated models can help to account for biases due to the trap sampling method from vessels and from wharf samplings. There were significant annual and seasonal changes in size distribution, and data collected outside the fishing season showed a significant increase in carapace length in 2014 and 2015, potentially reflecting a northward shift of the range of lobster populations due to more favourable settlement and recruitment habitats. Size also increased in late summer, likely due to moult. Our results demonstrated that landed lobsters, especially females, were smaller than the predicted size-at-maturity in the region (96.5 mm carapace length), which could have long-term repercussions for the stock’s reproductive potential.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0295402
Number of pages12
JournalPLOS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2023


  • lobsters
  • fisheries
  • marine fish
  • animal migration
  • shallow water
  • surface temperature
  • Canada
  • population dynamics


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