skip navigation
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Regional Testing of Lobster Tomalley for PSP Toxin

Contract Title: MOA with NH Fish and Game for Red Tide Disaster Relief
Grantee: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
Award Period: January 13, 2010-June 30, 2011

Contract Title: MOA with F&G for Red Tide Testing
Grantee: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
Award Period: May 23, 2012-January 31, 2013

Contract Title: Contract with Resource Access International for Lobster Tomalley Testing
Grantee: Resource Access International
Award Period: July 3, 2012-October 31, 2012

Original Proposal

This proposal provided for testing of New Hampshire lobster tomalley for PSP toxins, as necessary, in order to help managers better understand how quickly PSP toxins accumulate in lobster tomalley, and to post appropriate consumption advisories and other management actions. Sampling sites included a commercial lobstering ground off of Rye Harbor, as well as offshore and inshore sites sampled by NH Fish and Game for juveniles. Due to delays in receiving federal funds, the NHDES Shellfish Program utilized its nonfederal sampling budget to purchase the adult lobsters in 2009, and the NH Fish and Game utilized its own funding to sample juvenile lobsters in 2009. Federal funds in the New Hampshire award were used for sample acquisition and transportation to the analytical lab at the Maine Department of Marine Resources (MEDMR) in 2010 and 2011. Sample analysis costs were borne by MEDMR during 2010 and 2011. Project end date was June 30, 2011 and was extended to January 31, 2012.

Project Summary

Lobster sampling occurred during the 2009-2012 red tide seasons, specifically June through September of those years. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHF&G) collected juvenile lobsters at only offshore locations in 2009 and at inshore and offshore locations in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Measurements and observations of each lobster were taken by NHF&G and NHDES staff during the 2009, 2011, and 2012 seasons. Seaview Lobster Company collected adult lobsters at a commercial lobstering ground off of Rye Harbor during all four red tide seasons. Measurements and observations of each lobster were taken by NHDES staff during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. During the 2009-2011 red tide seasons, tomalley was extracted from the lobster samples by NHDES and MEDMR staff and analyzed by MEDMR. During the 2012 red tide season, tomalley was extracted by NHDES and Resource Access International LLC staff and analyzed by Resource Access International.

Tomalley was tested for biotoxin using the mouse bioassay (MBA) method. Low paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxin levels were detected for inshore and offshore adult and juvenile lobster tomalley samples during 2010, 2011, and 2012. There were no severe red tide bloom events during the 2010-2012 red tide seasons, as indicated by PSP toxin testing of blue mussel samples from inshore and offshore locations (blue mussel PSP testing was not funded under this grant, but rather was supported with state general funds). In 2009, there were two red tide bloom events in New Hampshire waters. The offshore and nearshore Atlantic Ocean areas had red tide closures during the months of May, July, and August. All juvenile lobster tomalley samples in 2009 showed low toxicity (<42 µg/100g). All adult lobster tomalley samples in 2009 showed low toxicity (≤52 µg/100g) except for one lobster that was harvested on August 10, 2009 (the average of all four adult lobsters harvested on that date was 93 µg/100g). Blue mussel samples harvested at offshore and inshore locations on that date had <44 µg/100g. The higher toxicity value found in the lobsters on August 10, 2009 could have resulted from bioaccumulation of PSP toxins over the previous month, when toxin values over the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) closure threshold were observed in blue mussels; however, it should be noted that the tomalley from lobsters harvested on August 17, 2009 showed low toxicity (≤43 µg/100g). Although there was an adequate sample size for this study, environmental conditions limited the scope of the analysis. In order to develop a more complete understanding of the dynamics of PSP toxin in lobster tomalley, more data needs to be collected during red tide bloom events.

If there is a future severe red tide season, the initial response from NHDES would likely be one related to outreach, specifically using the products developed under this grant award (e.g., web-based red tide resource center) to ensure dissemination of factually-correct data on the risks of eating lobster tomalley. Should additional sampling be warranted, more tomalley analyses would be done to the extent that available resources allow.

Reports and Products



Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol Adobe Acrobat Reader format. Download a free reader from Adobe.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

copyright 2014. State of New Hampshire