ESFPA Conservation Programs and Research Strategy for LFAs 32/31B
As part of the society’s mandates and objectives to promote effective communication between fishermen and scientists, the FSRS has taken on a contract partnership with the Eastern Shore Fisherman’s Protective Association (ESFPA) to carry out conservation work and research on their behalf.
V-notching Conservation Program
In 1999 the Eastern Shore fishing community comprised of LFAs 32 and 31B saw an increase in their minimum legal carapace size from 31/4 inches to 35/16 inches that came about from a mandate at DFO to increase lobster egg production. The vast majority of fishermen were against this increase as a conservation method and as a result the ESFPA’s V-notching Conservation Program was established a year later in 2000. Under this program each fisherman in LFAs 32 and 31B must submit female lobsters (165lbs for a partnership licence; 110lbs for a class A license; and 33lbs for a class B license) to be v-notched and returned back to the water. A v-notch is a ‘v’ shaped incision in the right flipper, next to the middle flipper on a lobster’s tail, when the lobster is dorsal side up. Any female with this mark is deemed ‘illegal’ and must be returned back to the water. With this new program in place, the minimum legal carapace size was returned to 31/4 inches. FSRS technicians are responsible for attending appointments with fishermen to assess their lobsters for proper weight, number, size, and overall good health. We record all necessary data and ensure that the lobsters are v-notched and returned to the water. Ongoing research is being carried out by the fishermen on the water by keeping detailed daily logbooks to determine how often these v-notched females are being recaptured and if the program is having the desired effect.
Size at Maturity
In 2010, funding was put in place to implement a size at maturity of lobster project on the Eastern Shore. This work would complement efforts already taking place in other areas of the province such as Cape Breton (2005-2007), Canso (since 2008) and Port Mouton (2009-2011). Yearly sampling began in Tangier in 2010, West Jeddore in 2012, and plans are currently underway to establish a site further east in LFA 31B for 2013.
Some of the best data FSRS technicians are able to collect happens at sea and in fish plants. While performing an at-sea sample a technician will measure all lobster, crabs, and fish caught in a lobster trap and also record information on environmental conditions, bait used, and number of traps hauled. A sea sample provides the most useful information as it allows for a catch per unit effort (CPUE) analysis of a given species (i.e. lobster) caught in a fisherman’s traps. Plant sampling lacks a lot of the in depth information that can be gathered from a sea sample but does provide a better look at the size ranges of lobsters that are being landed in a given region.
Nearshore Temperature Monitoring Project
In the spring of 2011 the FSRS, with the help of local fishermen and funding support from the ESFPA, deployed six temperature moorings along the Eastern Shore to kick-start the project. The moorings were deployed in late June in West Jeddore, , Pope’s Harbour, Marie Joseph, Wine Harbour, Port Felix and Owl’s Head in early 2012. These gauges will be replaced annually and the temperatures will be added into a database so that a long-term set of temperature trends can be monitored for these areas.