Local lobstermen fear possible die-off

Local lobstermen say there are signs the Long Island Sound lobster population may be in trouble again.

In recent months, sick and dead lobsters have surfaced in small pockets along the shore. Lobstermen in southwestern Connecticut and state officials say the situation is not the same scale as the massive 1999 die-off, which wiped out most of the Sound?s lobster population. However, lobstermen say the crop has been struggling in recent months.

The state?s marine fisheries spokesperson says the department first heard of the problem in late November and immediately ran pathology tests on a handful of lobsters. Those results were inconclusive, but researchers believe warmer-than-usual water temperatures may have triggered the problems.

State officials say they would have done more research during the fall, when the lobstermen first saw a problem, but they were not alerted to the issue then.

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