Climate change could lead to more lobster in P.E.I. waters

Steve Sharratt
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Howard's Cove

Prince Edward Island could soon become a lobster nursery on the waves if climate change predictions hold water.

A number of scientists at a joint U.S.-Canada Lobster symposium underway in Charlottetown on Wednesday say a slight increase in water temperatures anticipated around the province over the next 50 years could have a significant impact on the number of lobsters in the waters off the Island.

“We have to be humble in how we predict stocks will change in the future,’’ said Dr. Remy Rochette of the University of New Brunswick.

“But for example, if the sea surface temperature increases by 2.5C, which it is expected to, growth will happen faster.”

In fact, larval development (baby lobster) would grow 20 days faster.

Graduate student Ryan Stanley said that could easily see P.E.I. become a strong incubator for the species.

“With the temperature increasing in P.E.I. waters and decreasing the number of days a baby lobster is susceptible, you have less predation and an increase in settlement size lobsters,” said the Summerside native.

The grandson of a Skinners Pond fishermen, Stanley is completing his doctorate at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

He is just one of a number of scientists giving plenary sessions during the three day event at the Rodd Charlottetown.

“Lobster is a complex beast,’’ said Rochette. “We just don’t have enough information to model all the possible impacts and complications and I think when we use these models to make predictions we have to understand that they have to be validated.”

In the past 30 years, lobster landings have been spectacular and continue to break records every year.

Wendy Watson-Wright, regional director general for the Gulf Region with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said lobster is Canada’s most valuable seafood export with 2,800 tonnes landed in the Gulf region in 2014 valued at $240 million.

The warming of the water in some Canadian lobster producing grounds is actually causing baby lobsters to stick closer to home.

“But let’s not get carried away,” said Rochette. “The devil is in the details.”

Organizations: University of New Brunswick, Memorial University in Newfoundland, Rodd Charlottetown Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Summerside Canada

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Recent comments

  • My Questions
    My Questions
    November 05, 2015 - 13:56

    "In the past 30 years, lobster landings have been spectacular and continue to break records." That's excellent news for our fishermen and our province. Why then is the Prof at UPEI doing work to try and tarnish the agricultural industry by saying the lobsters are being harmed by farmers? Some of these things just don't make sense. Maybe telling a terrible version of what's happening in our lobster industry opens the door to more research dollars than if you said, "Hey, I'm part of an activist group called Cassandra that is against the farmers of PEI, and I'd like hundreds of thousands of dollars to do research that will "prove" my personal views, even if the science doesn't support it." Is the National Research Council even aware of his lobbyist activities before funding him?

  • Vick
    November 05, 2015 - 06:07

    My god I am getting tired of hearing about this climate change and people piggy backing on the environment! There is an increase in numbers for many reasons lets see hmmm "its a cycle"! Fishermen are better stewarts of the environment! Better technology on our vessels! Better Vessels/equipment! Size restrictions! Throwing the females back! Taking none with spawn! The list goes on no need to credit "Global Warming!