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EPA To Undertake $125,000 Study of Lobster Die-Off Issue In Long Island Sound; Lobsters to be Analyzed at EPA Laboratory in Rhode Island

Release Date: 07/28/2000
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will conduct a six-month, $125,000 environmental monitoring study to assess the condition of the water, sediments and other living marine life in Long Island Sound and improve our knowledge as to whether environmental factors played an important role in devastating lobster die-offs that have all but brought the lobster industry in the Sound to a halt. The states of Connecticut and New York have been conducting research looking at potential causes of the die-offs such as disease.

Additional Information
Long Island Sound

"This study will provide much-needed information on environmental stresses that lobsters are experiencing in Long Island Sound and what conditions may have contributed to last year's devastating die-off," said Mindy S. Lubber, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Much work is already being done to better understand this huge problem and hopefully this research effort will bring us a step closer to having answers."

The study will be funded by a program called Regional Applied Research Effort (RARE). Special equipment will be used to profile sediments and assess the condition of the bottom of the sound, where sediment and water come into contact. This equipment will include dissolved oxygen, ammonia, and sulfide probes to take readings as the sediment is examined. The agency will also deploy five continuous dissolved oxygen monitors in the western Sound during the period when dissolved oxygen is typically lowest – late summer and early fall. Lobsters will be analyzed for disease at EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory in Narragansett, R.I. This project will compliment a coordinated study of disease and environmental contaminants in lobsters. These efforts will all be folded into an overall "Bi-State Action Plan to Assess Lobster Mortalities."

The RARE program at EPA provides funding, generally about $100,000 a year, from the Office of Research and Development in Washington, D.C. to each of EPA's 10 regions to help finance needed research. The regions chose research projects they wish to fund and an internal peer review is conducted to ensure that the research is needed and scientifically valid. Since the program began in 1993, well over 100 projects have been funded through this program.

In addition to the funding provided today for this specific study, EPA has spearheaded efforts to protect and preserve Long Island Sound since the mid-1980's. A Long Island Sound Study (LISS) was begun in 1985 when Congress appropriated funds for EPA, Connecticut and New York to research, monitor and assess the water quality of Long Island Sound.

The federal Clean Water Act Amendments in 1987 officially established a National Estuary Program and Long Island Sound was officially designated an Estuary of National Significance in 1988. A group, consisting of federal, state, interstate and local agencies; universities; environmental groups; industry; and the public was convened and charged with developing a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for protecting and improving the health of Long Island Sound while ensuring compatible use of the Sound for recreation and commerce.

This plan was signed by EPA Administrator Carol Browner and the Governors of New York and Connecticut in September 1994. The plan characterizes the priority problems affecting Long Island Sound and identifies specific commitments and recommendations for actions to improve water quality, protect habitat and living resources, educate and involve the public, improve the long-term understanding of how to manage the Sound, monitor progress, and redirect management efforts.