Upper Bay of Fundy Lobster Fishery Monitoring Program

Impacts from Causeway Gates Opening on the Commercial Lobster Fishery

Through the Monitoring the Impact of the Petitcodiac River Causeway Gates Opening on the Commercial Lobster Fishery Project, as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment component of the Petitcodiac River Restoration Project, the FSRS will monitor the commercial lobster fishery in the Upper Bay of Fundy for possible effects caused by the opening of the Petitcodiac River Causeway gates in 2010. 

History of the Project

The province of New Brunswick made plans to replace the Petitcodiac Causeway with a four lane bridge as part of the Petitcodiac River Restoration Project.  The Causeway was built in 1968 to connect Moncton to Riverview and has since been the centre of a debate on whether it is preventing the river’s tidal bore from performing properly and preventing passage of fish.  (CBC news story about the opening of the Petitcodiac River causeway).

This project is multifaceted. In 2008 the remediation and erosion control phase began and in 2009 the monitoring of the fishing industry and the possible effects of the opening of the Petitcodiac Causeway gates commenced through the monitoring of the lobster fishery in the Upper Bay of Fundy. 

The third phase of the Project is to build a 280 metre long bridge to replace the Causeway and the final phase will be the opening of the Causeway gates allowing the tide to move freely along the river and then continue monitoring the river for at least two years after the gates are opened.

FSRS Role

The FSRS has been contracted to monitor lobster in the Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 35 located in the Bay of Fundy. More specifically in the exposure areas, Alma – Cape Enrage, New Brunswick and Apple River, Nova Scotia, and in a control area off Advocate Harbour. A FSRS Fisheries Technician has been based in Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia and another in Alma, New Brunswick since 2009, a year before the opening of the gates. A technician has remained in these locations and will be for at least two years after the opening of the gates. This work may continue for a longer period of time is funding is available and deemed necessary. The purpose of this monitoring project is to accumulate data on the fishing industry and the effects caused by the restoration of flow to the Petitcodiac River. 

Monitoring is done by conducting at-sea sampling and a scientific trapping program in the “exposure” and “control” zones before and after the gate is opened.  Water sampling is also conducted throughout the project. Volunteer fishermen from the sampling areas play an important role by collecting and recording data from science traps provided by the FSRS that enable scientist to monitor any changes in the lobster fishery.

In 2009 Sediment Sampling was added to the FSRS responsibilities.  Sediment found in hauled traps are noted, sampled and photographed whenever possible. This continued until 2012 until it was decided that this additional information was no longer needed and was removed from the sampling protocols.

In-season sampling is performed during the lobster fishing season in LFA 35, October 15 to December 31 and March 1 to July 31.  Out-of-season sampling is also being conducted during August and September.

Sampling of science traps is done by the fishermen during the in-season component of the project.  At-sea sampling is also conducted by the FSRS technicians on the commercial traps during the LFA 35 lobster fishing season.

Out-of-season sampling is performed by the FSRS Fisheries Technicians on 20 science traps and 40 commercial traps in each of the two exposure sites and the control site. Fishing vessels are contracted to assist in the sampling process.