FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ Lobstermen have reached a settlement with the final chemical company targeted by a lawsuit that claimed a pesticide may have contributed to a steep decline in the lobster population, they announced Tuesday.

The deaths rattled the lobster industry, sending 75 percent of full-time lobstermen in Long Island Sound out of the trade. Lobster catches in the Sound, which separates Connecticut and New York's Long Island, have dropped to less than 1 million pounds a year, compared with 6 million pounds in the late 1990s.

``This settlement is a victory for the hundreds of lobster fishermen in New York and Connecticut who lost their vocation and way of life with the destruction of the 200-year-old Long Island Sound lobster fishery,'' attorney Gladstone Jones said in a statement.

Lawsuits filed in 2000 targeted the makers of chemicals sprayed in and around the New York area in 1999 to combat an outbreak of the West Nile virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. Suits against two companies were settled in 2004.

Cheminova agreed Tuesday to pay $12.5 million to the lobstermen, subject to court approval, Jones said. The settlement is in addition to the $3.75 million paid in the 2004 agreements with Clarke Mosquito Control Products Inc. and Agrevo Environmental Health Inc., Jones said.

Cheminova admitted to no wrongdoing in the settlement. Company attorney Christopher Kelly and a company spokesman did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.

The money would be divided among several hundred commercial lobstermen, Jones said, adding that $100,000 is to be donated to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine to research the Long Island Sound lobster fishery.

The lobstermen claimed that Cheminova, of Wayne, N.J., allowed Fyfanon, a brand name for malathion, to be used with an outdated label on its 55-gallon drums. The Environmental Protection Agency said in 1994 that the label needed a warning that the spray should not be used ``around bodies of water where fish or shellfish are grown and/or harvested commercially,'' according to the lawsuit.

The EPA delayed final approval of the label change a number of times between 1994 and 1999. The labels that included the warning did not appear until a few weeks after lobsters began to die, the suit contended.

Cheminova had argued in court papers that the EPA never told it specifically when to start using the new label.

Researchers have said in the years since the die-off that the pesticide may not have caused it.