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Pesticide Effect On Lobster In The Northumberland Strait Analysed

A team of researchers is developing a study on the potential impact of agricultural pesticide run-off on lobsters in the Northumberland Strait.

The three-year study is the result of the joint work carried out by scientists of the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), the PEI Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA), and Homarus Inc.—a non-profit organization managed by the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.

Funds for the analysis were provided by a Strategic Partnership Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“The lobster populations in the Northumberland Strait have been collapsed for quite a number of years, and no amount of fisheries measures seem to have improved that,” points out Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, UPEI’s Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity and principal investigator of this project.

“The conclusion is that there are other influencing factors that are not coming from the strait itself. They’re, in fact, coming from the surrounding land,” the scientist adds.

The researcher explains that estuaries and coastal zones are under environmental pressure due to urban development, agriculture, and climate change. In the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, this is of special concern.

For his part, PEIFA president Craig Avery stressed that the uniqueness of that area is mainly because of the proximity to shore on both sides and said that among those contaminants are pesticides that are highly toxic to invertebrates, especially crustaceans such as lobster.

Referring to the study, a research scientist with Homarus Inc., Dr. Dounia Daoud, highlighted: “We are interested in any effect that could potentially be an explanation. It could be temperature. It could be pesticides. It could be acidification. We are studying all of those aspects.”

“I am proud that the fishermen are taking care of their resource. I think it’s important. They are at the origin of our involvement of this project. It’s original and new that fishermen are taking care of the future,” Daoud concluded.

The project will also establish new long-term monitoring methods to improve our understanding of how the environment changes in response to activity on land.