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Prediction of the Date of Onset of Lobster Spring Mobility Based on Environmental Factors


Lobster traps waiting to be deployed in early spring. Photo: Jean-Claude Richard, DFO

Lobster begin to move in spring when the water reaches a threshold temperature of about 1.5℃. In recent years, this has occurred earlier in the season, and it is expected to occur even earlier in the future due to climate change. This project will analyze archived thermograph data, as well as data from new deployments at three sites—north and south of Iles-de-la-Madeleine, off northeastern Prince Edward Island—to evaluate variations in the date at which each site reaches 1.5℃. Interannual variability in the onset date of spring warming will also be compared to air temperature, ice cover and sea-surface temperature from remote sensing in an effort to identify the simplest indicator to predict when water temperatures will reach the lobster mobility threshold.

In a warming climate, this predictive ability will help fisheries management adapt to an eventual shift in opening the Gulf of St. Lawrence lobster fisheries. It will also provide valuable information for Small Crafts Harbour Management, in light of requests to open some harbours earlier. This approach has the potential to be applied to other lobster fishing areas.

Program Name

Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)


Atlantic: Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. Lawrence Estuary

Principal Investigator(s)

Peter Galbraith
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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