‘There’s a lot of gaps we have with capelin’

Ini­tial work un­der­way into bet­ter un­der­stand­ing capelin along north­east Labrador


Work is cur­rently un­der­way along the Gulf of St. Lawrence to hope­fully con­nect dots and find an­swers re­gard­ing the chang­ing ac­tiv­ity of capelin in the re­gion.

The resur­gence of capelin along shores in north­east Labrador that hadn’t seen them in years sparked an ini­tia­tive with Memo­rial Univer­sity’s Marine In­sti­tute, the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans, the World Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, and a va­ri­ety of other or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The groups share a com­mon goal to bet­ter un­der­stand this species, which is the foun­da­tion of a healthy aquatic sys­tem.

Dr. Marie Cle­ment, a re­search sci­en­tist based in Labrador In­sti­tute of Memo­rial Univer­sity in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, hopes this col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort will help de­ter­mine the ori­gins of the un­ex­pected re­turn of capelin to north­east Labrador.

“We’re test­ing our hy­poth­e­sis that the capelin show­ing on the north­east shore are com­ing from Nunavut, rather than north At­lantic stock,” Cle­ment said.

Cle­ment is en­gaged in specif­i­cally study­ing phe­no­types of the capelin, hop­ing to de­ter­mine if cer­tain char­ac­ter­is­tics show which area the capelin came from. It is one key ob­jec­tive to bet­ter un­der­stand a species and area where there are many gaps in knowl­edge.

“Capelin can be very spo­radic,” Cle­ment said. “They can spawn in one lo­ca­tion and not the fol­low­ing year. Now they are of­ten spawn­ing for briefer pe­ri­ods of time and later in the year, par­tic­u­larly in New­found­land.

“We need to gather this in­for­ma­tion to bet­ter un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics be­tween each year.”

Un­der Cle­ment’s su­per­vi­sion, stu­dent Chelsea Boaler is be­gin­ning some ini­tial re­search in Labrador this sum­mer. Work­ing on her PhD with Marine In­sti­tute’s new fish­ery sci­ence PhD pro­gram, Boaler is gath­er­ing sam­ples and in­ter­view­ing el­ders and har­vesters of the coastal com­mu­ni­ties. She hopes to com­pare her in­ter­view work with the sci­en­tific data and anal­y­sis also be­ing done.

“There’s a lot of gaps we have with capelin,” Boaler said. “The thing I’m look­ing most for­ward to is try­ing to fig­ure out a mean­ing­ful way we can in­cor­po­rate lo­cal eco­log­i­cal knowl­edge with the sci­en­tific work that’s hap­pen­ing through DFO and other aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions.”

Boaler is also be­ing su­per­vised by Dr. Grant Martin of Duke Univer­sity, who is help­ing her de­velop the method­ol­ogy for con­duct­ing in­ter­views with lo­cals. Thus far, she has gained a lot of in­for­ma­tion from ca­sual con­ver­sa­tions with fish­er­men on how capelin spawn­ing has changed for the area over the years. She also hopes to study the con­trast be­tween those who fish capelin com­mer­cially and those who fish recre­ation­ally to put a meal on the ta­ble.

Boaler will be go­ing to St. John’s to do her first se­mes­ter of course work for the pro­gram in Septem­ber, but will be back in Labrador in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber for some ini­tial pre­sen­ta­tions on her on­go­ing re­search.

Dr. Martin Cas­tonguay, re­search sci­en­tist for the In­sti­tut Maruice-La­mon­tagne, says com­pared to the knowl­edge sur­round­ing capelin along New­found­land’s east­ern coast, in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing capelin stocks along the Labrador Straits and North­ern Penin­sula is mi­nus­cule.

“It’s been a quiet year for capelin from what I’ve been hear­ing,” said Cas­tonguay. “And we re­al­ize we need to im­prove our re­search ef­forts.”

As well as play­ing a role in the work be­ing done by Cle­ment and Boaler, Cas­tonguay says DFO is pre­par­ing an an­nual sur­vey to de­ter­mine the biomass in­dex for the 4R fish­ing re­gion, of which cur­rently there is lit­tle data.

“It will be a new hy­dro acous­tic sur­vey ev­ery year to as­sess biomass in the gulf [of St. Lawrence],” he said. “I’m hop­ing it will start in 2018.”


PhD stu­dent Chelsea Boaler, with Marine In­sti­tute’s new Fish­ery Sci­ence PhD pro­gram, spent her sum­mer in Labrador un­der­go­ing ini­tial work to help with a col­lab­o­ra­tive project to bet­ter un­der­stand the chang­ing ac­tiv­ity of capelin the Gulf of St....


Er­rol An­der­sen, lead con­ver­sa­tion of­fi­cer with the Nu­natsi­avut govern­ment, worked with stu­dent Chelsea Boaler in gath­er­ing capelin sam­ples.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.