This is the second of the three-part series, Indicator Species: New England Fishermen and the Challenges of Climate Change. You can find part one here.
The lobster industry in southern New England has been on the decline for decades. As waters warm, some lobster fishermen are adapting by switching their catch to Jonah crab, a crustacean once considered a trash species.
Mike Palombo is captain of a 72-foot lobster boat, but his main catch is crabs.
He leaves from the Sandwich Marina for three-day fishing trips, going out over 100 miles to haul traps in the Canyons. One day this fall, he and his crew returned with around 23,000 Jonah crab and 2,000 lobsters in big saltwater holding tanks. “It was a good trip, very productive,” he said.
Jonah crab are sturdy, hard-shelled creatures, with black-tipped claws. They’re about a pound apiece. You might not have heard of them, but Jonah crab are sustaining Southern New England fishermen left stranded by the decline of lobsters.