Peter Lawton

Head, Gulf of Maine Crustacean Fisheries Section (SABS)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Current research and/or projects

Dr. Lawton has worked extensively on invertebrate fisheries ecology with substantive university and government employment periods in the United Kingdom, United States, and, since 1989, in Canada. His research for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has emphasised the linkage of marine ecological and marine geological approaches in the description and analysis of marine benthic habitat structure, principally in connection with the evaluation of habitat suitability and sensitivity for commercial invertebrates, such as lobster, crabs and sea urchins. Most recently (since 2002) he has been redirecting this research program interest to work on assessment of marine biodiversity in support of the shift to ecosystem based management.

Dr. Lawton has a broad field research experience, using both in situ (e.g. diving and submersibles) and remote (deployed video and acoustic) marine technologies and survey approaches to conduct benthic habitat evaluations in depths ranging from the intertidal to 2500m. In connection with the development of custom benthic video survey systems and use of a variety of biological and marine geological georeferenced data sources, Dr. Lawton’s research teams and collaborations have resulted in a comprehensive information systems capability. Integrated systems now encompass georeferenced at-sea data acquisition, relational database infrastructure, and geographical information systems-based analytical capacity.

In addition to his marine ecological research, Dr. Lawton led Canadian invertebrate (lobster, crab, and sea urchin) fishery stock assessments in the Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine area between 1996-2002. He retains a number of ongoing involvements in Canadian and US lobster fishery evaluation. Dr. Lawton is a member of the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and is the Chair of the Steering Committee for the Gulf of Maine Biodiversity Discovery Corridor. In connection with his earlier research on lobster fisheries ecology and management he was involved in numerous regional and international peer reviews of lobster stock assessments, and in joint research projects with international collaborators. He is an editor (since 1997) of the international Lobster Newsletter. Dr. Lawton has ongoing involvements in graduate student education, being associated with several masters and doctoral students currently involved in projects led by collaborators from the University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, and the University of Maine.

Research and/or project statements

Dr. Lawton has worked extensively on invertebrate fisheries ecology with substantive university and government employment periods in the United Kingdom, United States, and, since 1989, in Canada. His research for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has emphasised the linkage of marine ecological and marine geological approaches in the description and analysis of marine benthic habitat structure, principally in connection with the evaluation of habitat suitability and sensitivity for commercial invertebrates, such as lobster, crabs and sea urchins. Most recently (since 2002) he has been redirecting this research program interest to work on assessment of marine biodiversity in support of the shift to ecosystem based management. Dr. Lawton has a broad field research experience, using both in situ (e.g. diving and submersibles) and remote (deployed video and acoustic) marine technologies and survey approaches to conduct benthic habitat evaluations in depths ranging from the intertidal to 2500m. In connection with the development of custom benthic video survey systems and use of a variety of biological and marine geological georeferenced data sources, Dr. Lawton’s research teams and collaborations have resulted in a comprehensive information systems capability. Integrated systems now encompass georeferenced at-sea data acquisition, relational database infrastructure, and geographical information systems-based analytical capacity. In addition to his marine ecological research, Dr. Lawton led Canadian invertebrate (lobster, crab, and sea urchin) fishery stock assessments in the Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine area between 1996-2002. He retains a number of ongoing involvements in Canadian and US lobster fishery evaluation.  

Dr. Lawton is a member of the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and is the Chair of the Steering Committee for the Gulf of Maine Biodiversity Discovery Corridor. In connection with his earlier research on lobster fisheries ecology and management he was involved in numerous regional and international peer reviews of lobster stock assessments, and in joint research projects with international collaborators. He is an editor (since 1997) of the international Lobster Newsletter. Dr. Lawton has ongoing involvements in graduate student education, being associated with several masters and doctoral students currently involved in projects led by collaborators from the University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, and the University of Maine.

Education and awards

  • BSc Environmental Science (University of Bradford, UK)
  • Ph.D. Marine Zoology (University of Wales, UK)

Key publications

  1. Lawton, P, and Lavalli, K.L. 1995. Postlarval, juvenile, adolescent, and adult ecology. Pages 47-88. In J.R. Factor (ed.) Biology of the Lobster Homarus americanus. Chapter 4. Academic Press, San Diego, California.

  2. Robichaud, D.A., and Lawton, P. 1997. Seasonal movements and dispersal of American lobsters, Homarus americanus, released in the upper Bay of Fundy, 1992. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2153: iii + 21 p. 93.

  3. Lawton, P., Robichaud, D.A., Rangeley, R.W., and M.B. Strong. 2001b. American lobster, Homarus americanus, population characteristics in the lower Bay of Fundy (Lobster Fishing Areas 36 and 38) based on fishery independent sampling. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2001/0

  4. Lawton, P., Robichaud, D.A., Strong, M.B., Pezzack, D.S., and C.F. Frail. 2001a. Spatial and temporal trends in the American lobster, Homarus americanus, fishery in the Bay of Fundy (Lobster Fishing Areas 35, 36, and 38). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2001/094.

  5. Strong M.B., and Lawton, P. 2004. URCHIN – Manually-deployed geo-referenced video system for Underwater Reconnaissance and Coastal Habitat Inventory. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2553: iv + 28 p.

  6. Lawton, P., MacIntyre, A.D., Robichaud, D.A., and Strong, M.B. 2005. Preliminary studies on coastal habitat occupancy by lobsters, Homarus americanus, in relation to dredge spoil disposal in the approaches to Saint John Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada. Can. Manuscr. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2718: iv + 23 p

Research facility