2021 Presentations

9:15 – 9:30AM
Field Behaviour of Lobsters in Response to Natural Prey and Baits

Dr. Russel Wyeth

The American lobster (Homarus americanus) is an abundant benthic marine predator along much of the continental shelf of the Northwest Atlantic. Lobsters are opportunistic omnivores that feed on a variety of vertebrate, invertebrate, and macroalgal species. Lobsters are also the target of an extensive and economically important trap fishery that adds substantial quantities of bait into the nearshore benthic ecosystem.  How lobsters interact with food items, conspecifics and other species around food items are key components in understanding the ecological role of lobsters, the influence of the bait subsidy on the ecosystem, the sustainability of the fishery, and the costs associated with bait.  However, previous research on lobster foraging behaviour has primarily occurred in laboratory settings, where behaviours may or may not be similar to what occurs in nature. Our goal is to investigate how lobsters move and behave around food sources in the field and compare responses to different prey and bait items.  We have developed a system to use downwards-facing cameras attached to tripods with prey or bait secured below to record foraging lobster behaviour.  A range of different natural prey and baits were tested.  Ongoing analyses include enumerating lobster appearances in the video and contact with the bait.  We also will be measuring movement directions and speeds relative to water flow directions, and using an ethogram to quantify durations and frequencies of all behaviours recorded in the videos.  Collectively, these measures will be used to describe lobster foraging behaviours, social and heterospecific interactions, and to assess the relative attractiveness of different prey and bait items. Our results to date have established a baseline that shows good correspondence with information from harvesters.  Future efforts will now focus on improving understanding of lobster foraging, food preferences, and food-related interactions. Understanding lobster foraging preferences will also be useful for improving the efficiency and sustainability of the lobster fishery.  Finally, the system will likely also be useful in future assessments of alternative baits considered for use in the fishery.

Dr Russell C. Wyeth, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at St. Francis Xavier University. RCW is an invertebrate zoologist, animal behaviourist, and neurobiologist, so he’s really interested in how the brains of marine invertebrates make them creep, crawl and scuttle in response to food or mates or predators. He earned his degrees at the University of Victoria (BSc, 1996) and University of Washington (PhD, 2004). Moving from that coast to this coast, he was a post-doctoral researcher at Dalhousie University before starting at StFX in 2007. He just likes hanging out in or near seawater, so that’s where he does most of his science. He and his students have
done a lot of research with slugs and snails and lobster, mostly using video. He particularly ponders how animals can interact with odours and odour sources in aquatic environments, which has led him to this particular project studying lobster responses to both natural prey and baits used in the fishery.

Marine Species at Risk
Katie Schliet

As of 2019, 19 species across 45 populations of commercially fished species- or those caught as bycatch- have been designated as at risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). While there are policy and regulatory tools available, there are often obstacles to implementing measures to rebuild populations. Oceans North is working with fishermen to identify stewardship actions and best practices to reduce the impact of fishing on at risk marine fish species. In this presentation, we will discuss findings from these conversations so far and seek additional thoughts and ideas from conference participants.

Katie Schleit, senior fisheries adviser at Oceans North. With expertise in fisheries management and policy, Katie Schleit focuses on rebuilding fish populations while considering the needs of people and the ecosystem. Katie has worked in the NGO and public sector for over a decade, collaborating with government, fishermen, scientists and the public on ocean conservation and sustainable management. Before joining Oceans North, she led marine campaigns at the Ecology Action Centre and previously worked at the Pew Charitable Trusts and U.S. Peace Corps. She holds a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington where her research included working with a community in the Philippines to develop a marine protected area network management plan. She is based in the Halifax office.

10:35 – 10:50AM
North Atlantic Right Whale Migration

Delphine Morin

Using passive acoustic moorings to define North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) distribution in Atlantic Canada. Many North Atlantic right whale (NARW) have been injured or killed by ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (GSL) since 2015. In response, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada have implemented, and continue to revise, mitigation measures to reduce human caused risks in Atlantic Canadian waters. Despite an increase in monitoring efforts, NARW distribution in most of these waters remains poorly defined. Addressing this knowledge gap is crucial for effective mitigation and the long-term survival of this species. NARWs produce a characteristic sound, the “upcall”, which when detected using passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) devices can indicate NARW presence. The objectives of this study were to 1)describe seasonal distribution patterns of NARW in Canadian waters and 2) identify areas of NARW presence outside of routinely monitored habitats. To achieve this, we analyzed PAM data collected by 73 moored and 14 mobile platforms (~20,800 recording days) deployed during 2015 through 2017 across the Atlantic Canadian waters between 42oN and 58oN. The results highlight NARW presence on the Scotian Shelf nearly year-round, while presence in the GSL and Cabot Strait extended from May through December,
emphasizing the importance of such areas for risk mitigation. This characterization of range-scale variability in NARW acoustic presence demonstrates the potential of PAM to facilitate efficient, persistent monitoring and sustainable dynamic management of the species.

Delphine Durrette–Morin, is a MSc student in the Oceanography Department at Dalhousie University. Her current research focuses on characterizing North Atlantic right whale distribution in Canadian waters and investigating the role of bioacoustics in advising industrial regulations. Her main research interests include biological oceanography, bio-acoustic ecology, marine conservation, science communication and outreach. Originally from Montreal, Delphine moved to Halifax 8 years ago to study the ocean and its inhabitants. In June 2016, she received a Bachelor of Science with First Class Combined Honours in Marine Biology and Oceanography with a cooperative component from Dalhousie University. Following her graduation, Delphine started her work for the Canadian Whale Institute, an organisation striving for the sustainable co- existence of whales and the humans through research and communication.

10:50 – 11:05
Apoqnmatulti’k: Integrative knowledge, collaborative stewardship

Gabrielle Deveaux and Shannon Landovskis

Apoqnmatulti’k (Mi’kmaw: “we help each other”) is a collaborative project that pairs Mi’kmaw, local, and western ways of knowing to study the movements and habitat use of katew (American eel), jakej (American lobster), and punamu (Atlantic tomcod) in Mi’kma’ki. Project leaders, including Mi’kmaw knowledge holders, local harvesters, academic researchers, and government scientists are working together to conduct studies that will link animal movement to environmental factors using both acoustic telemetry and knowledge shared by Mi’kmaw and local community members. Equal participation and engagement among knowledge holders is key to enabling better stewardship of these waterways and their inhabitants. A primary objective of the project is to foster co-learning and knowledge exchange using a Two-Eyed Seeing approach. Research questions, experimental design, and methodology have been co-developed to reflect the values of all partners. Data collected will be shared with communities, managers, and decision-makers to support the stewardship of aquatic resources. Through Apoqnmatulti’k, we are building a different way of doing research that is guided by, and responds to, community knowledge and priorities. The project is generating new, valuable information on commercially and culturally important species in Mi’kma’ki and is facilitating the transfer of knowledge across cultures and sectors.

Gabrielle Deveaux, raised in the prairies, moved to Halifax/K’jipuktuk in 2016 to complete her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at Dalhousie University. Previously employed at the Ocean Tracking Network as a Conservation Outreach Coordinator, she’s now a Master’s student at Acadia University studying the ecology of American eel/katew in the Bay of Fundy/Peitwitapaqek using diverse ways of knowing.

Shannon Landovskis is originally from Ontario, where she completed her Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo. She moved to Halifax/K’jipuktuk in 2015 and is now a Master’s student at Dalhousie University where she uses diverse knowledge systems to study the movement and habitat use of American lobster/jakej in the Bras d’Or Lake/Pitu’pok.

11:05 – 11:20 AM
An Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management at DFO
Department of Fisheries and Oceans Maritimes Region

The purpose of DFO’s National Initiative is to implement an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management which will improve management of aquatic resources in Canada.. An EAFM incorporates environmental variables, such as climate, oceanographic and ecological factors, into science advice to improve the management of aquatic resources in Canada through better understanding and consideration of ecosystem function and interactions. To achieve this goal, the Department formed the National EAFM Working Group, which is comprised of scientists, fisheries managers and policy makers. The Working Group has a three-year timeline to develop a national framework for integrating an ecosystem approach to single-species stock assessments and the provision of science advice for fisheries management decision making. To this end, the working group is working on taking an EAFM in a suite of case studies across Canada that will contribute to the development of this framework. The work will help meet the requirements of the new Fish Stocks Provisions of the revised Fisheries Act.

Alida Bundy, senior research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada. In support of the sustainable use of our oceans her research focuses on providing science advice for ecosystem-based fisheries and oceans management. Alida uses interdisciplinary approaches such as empirical ecosystem indicators, ecosystem modelling and local ecological knowledge to further understanding of how marine socio-ecological systems respond to change. She currently leads the DFO Maritimes Region Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management WG, co-chairs the DFO Maritimes Region Ecosystem-based Management WG and is a member of DFO’s National Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management Working Group.

Kristian Curran, a manager in fishery resource management with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada. Cross fishery issues, such as an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM), ghost gear, marine mammals, North Atlantic right whale, at-risk species recovery, and marine conservation targets fall within his section, among other programs. Kristian has a range of experience at DFO, being employed over the past two decades in ocean and ecosystem science, oceans management, fish habitat management, at-risk species recovery, policy and economics, science advice, ocean engineering and field support and, most recently, cross fisheries management. Kristian aims to bring all DFO interests to the table in his work regardless of where he resides in the Department. Of importance to Kristian is decision-making founded in science and other forms of knowledge, transparency, stakeholder engagement and consultation, and upholding Indigenous rights and reconciliation. Kristian currently represents the regional fisheries management sector on the DFO Maritimes Region Ecosystem-based Management WG and is a member of DFO’s National Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management Working Group.

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