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Maurice Lamontagne Institute Marks 25 Years
A wealth of discoveries through marine life research
DFO F. Servant
This major Fisheries and Oceans Canada Francophone research centre has made many discoveries in its 25-year history. The following are just a few examples of some of the most remarkable research projects that have helped improve the fishing industry in Quebec.
In the early 1990s, our scientific teams showed that the abundance of snow crab varies according to an approximate eight-year cycle, which includes periods of abundance and scarcity. The discovery of these distinct reproduction qualities had a decisive impact on the management of this species’ fishing.
Significant research revealed that, over time, Northern shrimp have adapted to the oceanographic conditions in which they evolved to provide their larvae with optimal conditions for survival. The research also showed that water temperature and phytoplankton production affect the rate of survival and growth of the shrimp larvae.
And in 2008, after three years of joint effort by our scientists, fishers, processors and provincial partners, Northern shrimp dredged by certified boats finally received international Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
Research on female lobster collected from various fishing sites in the Gulf of St. Lawrence revealed something astonishing! Larvae size does not necessarily correlate with the size of the female. In fact, larvae size increase according to the number of times the female has reproduced.
Surprising results were obtained by testing the efficiency of scallop dredging. Thirty years ago it was believed that dredging a scallop bed harvested only 10 to 20% of the resource, when in fact it harvests 40 to 70%. Based on this information, the fish management measures scale has changed completely!
More recently, a major breakthrough made it possible to determine the impacts of climate change on the distribution of Atlantic mackerel in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It seems that this fish has specific thermal preferences: between 7 and 15 degrees Celsius. The research also revealed that there is a close relationship between zooplankton production, such as Calanus,and mackerel recruitment, because mackerel larvae feed on young Calanus. More zooplankton therefore means considerably more mackerel, a significant commercial species.
Recent blue whale research has showed that whales have complex feeding habits. Not only can they access various marine habitats according to the tides, but they also use diving strategies that follow a very precise logic, combining the duration and depth of the dive with rest time on the surface. This allows them to get the most food for their efforts.
Most of the research found here has appeared in popularized articles available online. Click on the Quebec Region to see all the themes!
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