Before we get into the agenda items, I want to get one piece of business out of the way. Everybody has the budget for Bill . Can we get approval to adopt that budget?
It is moved by Mr. Finnigan.
(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we continue our study of the migration of lobster and snow crab in Atlantic Canada and the impact of changes to lobster carapace size.
We have a good many witnesses today, some by teleconference, some by video conference and one in person, with a lot of names up next to him but they're all either on the screen or on the phone.
Mr. Fitzpatrick, welcome. As you're an independent owner-operator fish harvester, you have lots of company, but they're just not here with you.
From the Coldwater Lobster Association we have Bernie Berry, President; and Heather Mulock, Manager. They're on teleconference.
From the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, we have Bobby Jenkins, President; Pat O'Neill, Interim Executive Director; Melanie Giffin, Marine Biologist and Program Planner; and Laura Ramsay, Research and Liaison Officer.
From the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, we have Andrew Pershing, Chief Scientific Officer, by video conference.
From the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland, by video conference, we have Arnault Le Bris. I believe he was here the other day. We got interrupted so often that we never actually had a meeting.
Welcome back again sir, even by video conference.
We'll start off with statements. We'll do the one by teleconference first.
I believe, Mr. Berry, you're going to do the statement. You have seven minutes or less.
Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to address the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on the subject of lobster movement.
As mentioned, my name Bernie Berry and I am President of the Coldwater Lobster Association.
I represent approximately 200 lobster harvesters throughout lobster fishing area 34, off southwest Nova Scotia. LFA 34 is the most lucrative lobster fishing area in Canada, with landings in the last five years averaging 55 million pounds per season. LFA 34 accounts for 40% of the maritime region landings and 25% of Canadian landings.
The Coldwater Lobster Association was established in 2014 to address some of the impending issues facing our industry in an effort to protect our fishery and our coastal communities for generations to come. One of our primary mandates is to oversee and conduct industry-supported scientific research initiatives. Much of our scientific work, including our lobster tagging program, which I'm about to discuss, is focused on collecting baseline datasets that could provide valuable insight into emerging trends that could impact our industry.
The inshore lobster fishery in Canada is regulated by effort controls, such as limited licence entry, pot limits, pot size, defined seasons, boat size, minimum carapace sizes, no berried female retention and window gauges in some LFAs. There's also an offshore lobster fishery that is managed by a quota system in which one company owns the entire quota.
Lobster movement has a significant importance to the lobster industry in understanding how environmental changes, such as rising water temperature, salinity levels, acidity, etc., can and have had an impact on the movement of a species. It is imperative that the movement of all sizes of lobsters be examined while our stock is healthy.
There must also be a focus on the movement and settlement of lobster larvae in different stages, and when and where they settle.
The shift in where lobsters are harvested in LFA 34 over the past 30 years is dramatic. In the 1970s and 1980s, 90% to 95% of lobsters caught were in 50 fathom and shoaler. In today's catch, 50% to 60% is harvested in 50 fathom and deeper. This is an important trend that is worth noting.
The Coldwater Lobster Association has initiated a lobster tagging program within lobster fishing areas 33 and 34 off southwest Nova Scotia for the past two years. The sample size of the program is 2,000 lobsters, both legal- and sublegal-sized lobsters. The recapture reporting for the tagged lobsters over the past two years has been approximately 18%, which is notable, as most tagging programs typically have an average recapture reporting of 10%. Coldwater Lobster is currently in the preliminary stages of reviewing the raw recapture data in an effort to determine broad outcomes and trends.
Coldwater Lobster also is a partner in a tagging program that will tag 12,000 sublegal-sized lobsters each year for the next three years. The lobsters are tagged using the standard T-bar streamer tag that is situated underneath the carapace into the meat. That will remain affixed to the animal for multiple moults.
Until recently, the last time a significant lobster tagging program was conducted in LFA 33 and 34 was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The interest in lobster movement and growth has increased in recent years, which can be seen with other tagging programs that are currently under way. One tagging program in the Bay of Fundy is being conducted by a first nation from New Brunswick. Most recently, a tagging program is under way in U.S. waters by the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association.
Recent studies have shown that there's evidence that the centre of the biomass of most stocks in the Gulf of Maine has moved north and east by 70 miles in the last 10 to 15 years. One example is Maine lobster landings. A decade ago, the southern half of Maine landed the bulk of the catch. Now the majority of the catch is landed in northern Maine. Another example of this could be the southern portion of LFA 33 in Canadian waters, which has experienced a major jump in catches, particularly in deeper waters. This is in conjunction with the trend of warming water and the biomass of lobster looking for optimum water temperatures. There is also the example of the massive increase in catches in LFA 35 over the last 25 years.
While all of this is positive, there is some evidence that the warming water has had a detrimental effect on the southern extremities of the lobster stock.
Tracking lobster movement is critical in determining the change in lobster behaviour, primarily because of the warming water trend that we are seeing. The Gulf of Maine is the second-fastest warming body of water on earth. Determining where lobsters are moving, especially female lobsters, is critical. If female egg-bearing lobsters are going into deep water to release their eggs because the traditional areas, shoal water, have become too warm, then it is critical to track where the eggs and larvae are going. The direction of current and the strength of current in these new areas are different from those in the inshore grounds and could lead to a different dispersal range from what used to exist.
There are many questions that remain to be answered. Are lobsters moving in a different direction because of food or lack of food in certain areas or because of water temperature? Could lobsters be going to unfamiliar territory because of overcrowding in areas brought on by favourable environmental conditions that have led to 100% of lobster larvae surviving, which has led to the abundance of lobsters that we've seen over the last 20 years?
Browns Bank, LFA 40, has been closed to all lobster fishing for approximately 40 years because it was believed to be an offshore nursery for lobster. If lobster movement is tracked, we might be able to identify other areas that could be classified as potential lobster nurseries and treat them as safe havens, or closed areas, to help the biomass in future years if the stock comes under pressure from environmental changes.
Tracking lobster movement could lead to a more cost-efficient harvest of the species and also lead to a harvest of premium lobsters based on location and time of year harvested. As Coldwater Lobster data is developed, it could provide us a snapshot comparison with data collected approximately 25 years ago. Over time, it will show the difference in movements, such as how fast, how far and what direction the species is moving in.
Coldwater Lobster's an in-house biologist, along with one of our member fishermen who also has a long-standing career as a geologist, are currently working on interpreting the raw data collected and applying it to a GIS mapping platform for further analysis and interpretation.
This is a very important time for the industry and DFO to collaborate on science. Changes in the environment are happening at an unprecedented pace, and collectively, we must act now to better understand the changes that have happened and will continue to happen, for the health of the stock and the economic viability of the fishery and the communities it supports.
Again, thank you very much.
Thank you, once again, to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for the opportunity for the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association to present on the important topic of migration of lobster and snow crab in Atlantic Canada and the impact of changes to lobster carapace size.
My name is Pat O'Neill and I'm the Interim Executive Director of the PEIFA. Today I'm joined by our marine biologist and program planner, Melanie Giffin; our research and liaison officer, Laura Ramsay; and the president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, Bobby Jenkins, who has more than 40 years of experience in the fishery.
The lobster industry is the most important fishery on P.E.I., and each of these witnesses plays a key role in the management, coordination and science of the species within the surrounding lobster fishing areas. The P.E.I. lobster fishery contributes to over 30% of the total Canadian lobster harvest and is one of the main economic drivers on P.E.I., with over 9,000 industry-related jobs and a direct landed value of $250 million annually.
Landings in 2018 increased in each lobster fishing area, with 19.3 million pounds in LFA 24, 11 million pounds in LFA 26A and 8.3 million pounds in LFA 25, equalling a 2%, a 12% and a 10% increase in landings respectively.
Fish harvesters on P.E.I. participate in a variety of other fisheries, including crab, tuna, small pelagics estuarial fish, shellfish and groundfish. On P.E.I., snow crab is second to lobster in landed value, with over $37 million in landings.
The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association is a multi-species fishing organization, representing approximately 1,300 independent core fishers. The association was created for numerous purposes, including but not limited to the following: to undertake the necessary action to manage the allocation of fish species harvested by fish harvesters on P.E.I.; to undertake, in concert with other fisheries interests in Atlantic Canada, methods to ensure the conservation of endangered species and the survival of the fishing industry; and to study, investigate and disseminate information concerning the fishing industry.
Today we will give an overview of the PEIFA's perspective on the topic, including specific concerns.
Climate change and the increase in water temperatures over time in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have been red-flagged at snow crab stock assessments, due to what is known on the impact on molting, movement and reproductive behaviour in snow crab. The trawl survey, which includes bottom temperature readings at each location, has become an important and consistent monitoring tool for this species in a variety of ways.
The fishery on P.E.I. is mainly dependent on lobster. It is vital that we have a good monitoring program in place to understand how climate change is affecting their habitat, biomass and molting. Currently, there is no permanent funding in place to monitor this.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is mandated to study lobster stock biomass, but nothing beyond that. Fishers on P.E.I. are concerned with other aspects of the lobster population, including the species' carrying capacity—namely, food and habitat limitations.
Understanding that better would include a project to gain knowledge on the rock crab population, which are a main component of the lobster diet. DFO submitted a proposal on this in collaboration with the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, but the project was rejected for funding.
Lobster and other mobile species will naturally avoid unsuitable habitat, less than ideal temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity and other water chemistry levels. These can shift with climate change, but also with industrial runoff such as Northern Pulp's proposed effluent treatment pipe into the Northumberland Strait. There is no monitoring being done by DFO to track these changes and monitor the movement of lobster from the area.
With respect to carapace length, P.E.I. is exceeding what is required according to DFO science and we are consistently reviewing and re-evaluating management measures to improve the way we harvest lobster. The last two carapace increases in lobster fishing areas 24 and 26A were requested by the fishers, who voluntarily agreed to move up in minimum carapace size. The lobster advisory committees on P.E.I. continue to work with the fishers to ensure progress in the right direction.
The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association conducts its own science projects to gain knowledge. We work with other organizations such as the Lobster Node Incorporated, a collective group of lobster fishing industry associations, to expand knowledge for all the Atlantic provinces. We develop new technology to improve data collection, and we work closely with DFO management and science to ensure we are doing everything we can to better understand the lobster population and changes taking place.
We work closely with the provincial lobster biologist and principal biologist Robert MacMillan on the lobster resource monitoring program. We also work extremely hard to keep all harvesters included in the information-sharing through lobster quality and handling workshops, advisory committee meetings and presentations from the biologists, etc. Knowledge-sharing is both top down and bottom up.
P.E.I. is also leading the way on lobster marketing with the development of the Lobster Fishers of P.E.I Marketing Board, which is funded by a levy. This type of funding initiative is only being done in Prince Edward Island, and the marketing board is run completely separately from the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association.
We are pleased to answer any questions you may have.
My name is Andrew Pershing and I'm the chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine, U.S.A. I've been studying the oceanography and ecology of the Gulf of Maine for more than 25 years.
As you know, the Gulf of Maine is bordered by the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as well as the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The United States and Canada have a shared interest in the well-being of the Gulf of Maine. I'm honoured to be invited to share my perspective on how climate change has impacted and will impact ecosystems in the northwest Atlantic, especially the region's valuable lobster fisheries.
The earth's oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat trapped on the planet due to the burning of coal and oil. At the ocean's surface, temperatures have increased at an average rate of 0.01° Celsius per year since 1982. However, the warming of the ocean is not uniform. Over the last 30 years, the waters from Cape Hatteras to Newfoundland have warmed at nearly four times the global average rate. This makes this region one of the fastest-warming ocean regions on the planet.
The area of rapid warming encompasses the natural range of the American lobster. Over this period, the distribution of lobsters has shifted poleward by a rate of 11 kilometres per year. This shift has coincided with the dramatic increase in landings in Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but a severe decline in catches in Rhode Island and New York.
There are two main processes that lead to range shifts in animal populations. First, individual animals can actively move to follow the environmental conditions that they prefer. This active movement is most common in large, mobile animals. A good example of a movement-driven range shift is the recent shift in the distribution of right whales from their summer feeding areas in the Bay of Fundy now to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. For less mobile species like lobsters, shifts in their distributions come from differences in reproduction and survival. Lobsters have not crawled from Rhode Island to Maine. Instead, lobsters in Rhode Island now produce fewer babies, and fewer of these survive, while Maine and Canada have seen a lobster baby boom.
The northward shift in lobsters has been driven by increased reproduction and survival in the north and decreased reproduction and survival in the south. Warming is an important part of this story. When lobsters are raised in warm water they grow fast and reach maturity in only a few years. But smaller lobsters produce fewer eggs and juvenile lobsters must run a gauntlet of predators. In colder water, lobsters grow more slowly and mature at a larger size.
When Dr. Arnault Le Bris and I compared lobster populations in the Gulf of Maine with those in southern New England, we were able to identify an optimal summer temperature for lobster recruitment near 16° Celsius. As waters have warmed, these optimal conditions have shifted from Massachusetts in the 1990s, to Maine and Nova Scotia in the early 2000s, to eastern Maine and New Brunswick in the last decade.
However, because we're talking about a shift due to differences in survival, we'd also need to account for fishing. In our modelling study, Dr. Le Bris and I contrasted the management strategies used in southern New England with those in the Gulf of Maine. Until recently, the lobster fishery in southern New England only had a minimum legal size, while Maine has long had both minimum and maximum legal sizes. This strategy, along with the practice of marking egg-bearing females with a v-notch, has been championed by generations of Maine lobstermen under the hypothesis that protecting larger lobsters would ensure a large brood stock and support high recruitment.
Our calculations support this hypothesis. We found that the lack of an upper size limit amplified the effect of warming in the south, turning a moderate downturn into a collapse. Similarly, protecting larger lobsters amplified the benefit to Maine from the recent warming.
But what about the future? Climate projections suggest that the northwest Atlantic will continue to warm at an above-average rate. By 2050, our region will likely be 1.5° Celsius warmer. At these temperatures, the western Gulf of Maine, the Scotian shelf and the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence will become less favourable for lobsters. When we put this rate of warming into our model, the number of lobsters in the Gulf of Maine decline to levels we experienced around the year 2000. Removing the protection on larger lobsters would result in a steeper decline. One of the most important messages of our recent paper is that protecting older, larger lobsters helps build resilience in this population.
In our study, we ran our model out to the year 2050. Beyond 2050, the fate of lobster will depend on global carbon emissions. If carbon emissions are reduced as envisioned in the Paris Agreement, then Maine and Atlantic Canada will likely hold on to valuable lobster fisheries. However, under business-as-usual emissions, these fisheries will be much smaller.
Our results for lobster underscore a major theme that emerged in the “Fourth National Climate Assessment” published last fall. In the “Oceans and Marine Resources” chapter, my colleagues and I highlighted how sound fishery management can help fisheries build resilience to climate change. We also identified clear economic benefits to fisheries from reducing carbon emissions, a theme that cut across all of the chapters in the recent U.S. “National Climate Assessment”.
As you consider policies for the future of Canada's lobster and snow crab fisheries, I would encourage you to learn from the experiences in the United States fisheries and to consider how your policies will fare in a warmer ocean.
Mr. Chairman and committee members, thank you for inviting me to speak with you today about lobster and snow crab ecology and fisheries.
My name is Arnault Le Bris, and I am a research scientist at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland. I define myself as a fisheries ecologist, addressing issues relevant to the fishing industry and to the sustainable management of marine resources.
As part of my current research on a variety of marine species, including lobster, I'm working with fishing associations from four provinces in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, with members from both the inshore and offshore fishing industries and with federal scientists from three regional centres of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
My presentation will focus on three issues. The first is the concept of movement in lobster and snow crab. The second is the problem of carapace size in the lobster fishery. The third, and most important, in my view, is the need to anticipate the future.
Issue number one is the movement in snow crab and lobster.
There are two types of adult movement: seasonal movements and alongshore movements. Seasonal migration from shallower water to deeper waters has been well documented in both lobster and snow crab. While this type of movement affects where the resource is distributed across seasons, it does not really affect whether a lobster or a snow crab moves from one fishing area to another.
The second type of adult movement is alongshore movement. This has the potential to cause movement across fishing areas. However, all tagging work conducted to date suggests that there's very little movement across lobster or snow crab fishing areas. Indeed, lobster and snow crab move alongshore in the order of tens of kilometres, which is enough to connect some fishing ports, but rarely enough to connect fishing areas, as demonstrated by the recent studies from the Lobster Node project.
Issue number two is minimum and maximum landing carapace sizes in the lobster fishery.
Throughout Atlantic Canada, minimum landing sizes are imposed in lobster fisheries. The rationale is to help lobster reproduce at least once before they are caught in the fishery. However, most of the minimum landing sizes are currently situated below the length at 50% maturity. This means that only a minority of lobster reproduce before they become vulnerable to the fishery. Increasing the minimum size, as was recently done in P.E.I., improves the chances that lobsters will reproduce. This increases the egg production in the population and consequently the resilience of the fishery to future changes in the ecosystem.
Another solution to increasing the egg production is to protect larger lobsters and especially larger females. Fecundity increases exponentially with size. For instance, a female lobster with an 85-millimetre carapace length produces about 10,000 eggs, while a female with a 110-millimetre carapace length produces about 50,000 eggs, which is about five times more. Another advantage of preserving larger females is that they reproduce more often. Preserving large reproductive females can be achieved through various conservation measures, including maximum size limit, throwing the egg-bearing female back in the water, v-notching and fishing gear selectivity.
As stated by my colleague Dr. Andrew Pershing, our work has demonstrated that the use of various conservation measures in Maine amplified the temperature-driven recent boom observed in the fishery.
In Canada, maximum size limits are not imposed. However, the combination of fishing season, the practice of v-notching in some areas and the general low selectivity of traps for larger individuals ensures that some large females remain in the water. How many large females are in the water is, however, unclear. Naturally, there are a lot of economic consequences of imposing minimum and maximum size limits, and especially market consequences, but I'm not an expert in that domain.
Issue number three is on anticipating the future.
I had a slide to show to you, and I don't know if it's on your screen right now. I wanted to show you a figure that summarizes the landings in fishing area 34 in southwest Nova Scotia from 1892 to 2016. The figure for landings in that area, which is very representative of the overall lobster landings for Maine and Atlantic Canada, shows that despite some ups and downs, landings were relatively stable for about 100 years, until the last 20 years. Quite suddenly over the last 20 years, we've experienced a massive boom in lobster landings.
This raises two very important questions: first, what has driven this rapid boom; and second, what will happen in the future? Responding to the first question helps to inform the second one.
In our previous work, we demonstrated that large-scale ocean warming has been favouring recruitment in northern regions like Maine, the Maritimes and possibly Quebec and Newfoundland, as some signs indicate nowadays. However, we don't fully understand the mechanism by which temperature affects recruitment. Is it through changes in the food availability for larvae lobster or through direct effects on growth and survival of food chains in the community of predators present in the system?
We need to better understand how climate change and ecosystems drive the recruitment process and also how predation affects the mortality of juvenile and adult lobsters. I think this is true for lobster but also for snow crab and, I will add, for shrimp.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada does a very good job of assessing the status of the resources. The next and most difficult step is to better understand the climate and ecosystem mechanisms that are driving the productivity of fish stock. Some work is being done on that, but we need to increase our science capacity around those questions, especially if we hope one day to predict future fisheries' productivity.
This brings me to the last point. Looking again at the figure that I was supposed to show you, I hope that everybody realizes that we are in a situation never experienced before. This is not the norm. The current landing of lobster in Canada is not the norm, and we need to keep that in mind.
Thanks to favourable ecosystem conditions and the hard work of the industry as a whole, the catches are at record highs, and the prices have been really good. This is fantastic, and I truly hope it lasts as long as possible. However, what will happen if the catches start to decline by 20% or 30%? What will happen to the thousands of harvesters and plant workers and to the hundreds of fishing communities that rely almost exclusively on these unique resources? This is a conversation that needs to happen sooner rather than later.
I don't have a prepared statement as such.
My name is Alfred Fitzpatrick. I'm a small boat independent harvester from the south coast of Newfoundland in Burin Peninsula. I come from an area where the lobster fishery is the vast majority of our income. For me personally, it's at least 80%. For some people in my area, it's 100%.
Areas 11 to 14 along Newfoundland's south coast and up the west coast have seen some very dramatic increases in lobster landings even though I believe we still make up less than 10% of the Canadian landings. Over the last few years we have seen big increases, and that's why I was eager to get the chance to come and sit in on this proceeding.
That being said, on the other side of the Burin Peninsula, which we call area 10, the lobster landings have plummeted to near zero. In the early 1990s, we were on par with Fortune Bay—area 11—and Placentia Bay. I don't know if it had something to do with industry, climate change or a change in water temperatures or currents, but all of a sudden, Placentia Bay plummeted to near zero. Fortune Bay increased along with the rest of the southwest coast.,
One thing I will say is that we're seeing a lot of very small lobsters being egg-bearing. A lot of the older fishermen in the area where I fish now say they've never seen it to the magnitude that it is now. I'm wondering if other LFAs around Atlantic Canada are seeing the same thing.
Is it normal? Does it bode well? With other stocks, they say that when smaller individuals start spawning and producing eggs, such as cod, it's a sign of a species under stress. I guess I'm here today with more questions than I have information to offer, which is probably normal for me.
That's about it. If you ask me a question and I have knowledge or anything to add to it, I'll certainly do so. If I don't, I'll defer to someone with a bit more experience than me.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thanks, everybody, for joining us today on this important study.
I'd like to ask Bernie Berry a question. I represent West Nova and know Bernie very well, and I know what good work the Coldwater Lobster Association does. Obviously this is a tremendously important industry for all of Atlantic Canada, and in particular southwestern Nova Scotia, where it is the backbone of our economy.
I'm glad for the work that you and your association do, Bernie. The changes to and the impact on the lobster population in the waters off our coast are extremely important, and it's extremely important that we understand what actually is happening in the waters. I was interested to hear more about the lobster movements based on temperature, rising waters and the salinity rate.
You made specific reference to some of the data you have, but I just need to be clear on it. You said, I think, that 90% to 95% of the landings in the seventies were from shallower waters and that now they're in deeper waters. I assume that's because the lobsters are moving around to find colder waters, and that's the difference in where the lobsters are found now. Is that accurate, Bernie?
That's some of it. The other part of it is that the biomass is so much larger, so the lobsters are going to different areas to find food and stuff like that. As I pointed out, LFA 34, like most LFAs in the seventies and eighties, was a traditional inshore fishery. That 50 fathom shoal, that's where all the lobsters were. It was a hard, rocky bottom.
Now, like I pointed out earlier, 50% to 60% of our harvest comes from deeper water with a muddy bottom. There is a food source there, and I think the lobsters simply needed to disperse somewhat. There were so many lobsters that they had to go to different areas, which is all good. It spread out the fleet. The fleet now encompasses.... I'm not sure how many square kilometres LFA 34 is, but it is the largest in Atlantic Canada. I think it might be 70,000 or 80,000 square kilometres. Certainly, with the increase in the size of the boats now, this has been very beneficial, basically because the fleet is spread out now.
The movement of lobsters is to deeper water, whether it be for food and/or coupled with the size of the biomass and the water temperature and stuff like that, Mr. Fraser, as you pointed out, but as for the bulk of them in the fall for us, when our season is open, the bulk of the lobsters are in the deeper water now.
I do agree with Arnault's comment on understanding the ecosystem better.
I know in one of your previous sessions there were discussions with Matthew Hardy regarding the lobster collector project.
To the gentleman from Maine with regard to the conversation about collaboration, I would mention that this Friday we have a collaborative meeting, between Canada and the States, about those larvae collectors, the number of babies we're seeing, and possibly some of those ecosystem changes that Arnault has brought up and why we might be seeing differences in different areas. I think we do a great job in collaborating on that aspect.
In terms of monitoring, I do support looking at things from an ecosystem perspective. I think we need to understand what's happening with our larval lobster and whether it is a change in the phytoplankton. We have the shift now, with the north Atlantic right whales being here. There is some evidence to support that those larval lobsters are feeding on some of the same types of copepods that the north Atlantic right whales are. That kind of goes to show why we might have a boom happening in our larval lobster in P.E.I., where we've seen some of the highest numbers in terms of baby lobster out of any area that's done it. That may be closely related to the fact that those north Atlantic right whales are here feeding on the same type of thing.
I think understanding the ecosystem as a whole and monitoring the temperature...although we can't do anything to prevent the changing temperature. We need to have the knowledge and be aware of what's changing and how those changes could drive a shift in our fisheries.
From my perspective, those are two of the main components. I don't know if Laura has anything to add to that.
My other question, which again goes to Ms. Giffin, is on the movement of lobster. Again, there was expert testimony given to this committee a number of times that there's little movement of lobster in general. Does the PEIFA have any documentation to contradict this or to verify it?
Often, in discussion within the different LFAs, the fishermen will say that the lobsters they throw over are swimming to some other district. For instance, in the southern part, between Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island, you look at LFAs 26B and 24. LFA 26B would have a significantly large carapace size and LFA 26A would not.
Do you have any scientific data that would contradict what earlier testimony gave us?
Actually, in LFA 34, we were very lucky last year. There were two closures very close to our fishing area. One was in the Roseway Basin. It happened on the last day of our season, but if it had happened two weeks earlier, we would have had a closure in a small section in our southeast corner. The same thing happened on our northern border. Grand Manan had a closure mid-June, which is two weeks after our season closed down. The size of that closure meant it would have come into LFA 34.
It could have had an impact, but we've tested a ropeless gear technology in different designs, and stuff like that. We have hydrophones out now, in specific areas, trying to garner information. The key, from our perspective, is that industry has to be proactive instead of reactive. You have to try to get out ahead of some of this. Sometimes you're caught off guard, but we have been trying to work with DFO.
All of this is new for everybody, I think. We have to do things like this, especially when it comes to the whales, because of the negative impact it could have on markets. Also, there is the MMPA that the Americans are pushing. We have to meet certain requirements there, so we are beholden, as an industry, to be very proactive and, as I just mentioned, to simply get out ahead, work with science Technical difficulty—Editor the best we can and make sure our fishermen are not negatively impacted here.
Not at all. Thank you for the question.
Carbon dioxide has two effects. First, it creates a greenhouse gas effect, which warms the atmosphere and the oceans. As far the second is concerned, it's important to understand that the vast majority of carbon dioxide, 70% to 75%, is absorbed by the oceans. When carbon dioxide mixes with sea water, it creates an ion of acid, or H+, in this case, calcium carbonate, which acidifies the oceans.
In the scientific community, we consider ocean acidification a climate change time bomb for marine ecosystems. We don't yet fully understand the impact of acidification, but we are starting to see a lot more studies emerge. The thinking is that, in 50 or 100 years, acidification could affect all ocean ecosystems everywhere. Some areas are likely to be more affected by acidification, especially those like ours, where it's colder.
Studies are beginning to show the potential impact of decreasing water pH, in other words, increasing acidity, on lobster. It is thought that the impact on adults will be fairly mild and short-lived, but that larvae will be more affected. As of now, we don't have a grasp on what those effects are. We think phytoplankton and zooplankton will be most affected, and because they form the basis of the ocean's food supply, the rest of the food chain could be impacted. This discussion began just 10 or 20 years ago, so we are only beginning to understand the phenomenon. In the long term—over the next 30, 40 or 50 years—though, it will really become a central issue.