North Cape Lobster Restoration Program Completed

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The restoration plan realized its goal on June 23, 2006 by placing a V-notch in the tail flipper for the last of 1.248 million lobsters. A celebratory event was held in Providence, RI on Aug. 10, 2006 with Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri, Senator Jack Reed, federal officials from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, representatives from the commercial fishing and oil shipping industries, as well as Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management to acknowledge the success of the program. The effort lasted more than six years in order to restore Rhode Island’s lobster population due to significant impact from an oil spill.

The North Cape, a 340-foot oil barge, ran aground off Moonstone Beach, RI in 1996 after its tug received damage from a severe winter storm and ensuing fire. More than 800,000 gallons of home heating oil spilled into the waters resulting in death to an estimated 9 million lobsters, and other marine life and birds. Following the oil spill, a Board of Trustees developed a restoration plan for those lobsters lost, and OTF was hired to carry out that plan. With facilitation from JMS and Jamestown Marine Offshore, OTF hired and trained 91 observers and worked with over 150 fishermen in RI and MA to complete the project. In a prepared press release statement, Governor Carcieri said, “this partnership between Rhode Island’s fishermen and marine biologists has been a tremendous success. It has helped to restore our lobster population, and it has ensured that this important piece of our economy will continue.” President of the Rhode Island Lobstermen’s Association, Lanny Dellinger, noted, “…this project is a perfect example of industry working together with state and federal agencies to accomplish a positive outcome for the resource.”

By Professional Mariner Staff