Spatial Dynamics of Valued Atlantic Groundfish

This research will tackle the challenges of assessing and maintaining sustainable, high-valued groundfish fisheries during a period of rapid ocean change. Scientists will define the spatiotemporal movements of high-value Atlantic halibut stocks and recovering northern cod populations by linking animal tracking (pop-up satellite tags, acoustic tagging, accelerometry, receiver arrays and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) with genomic information. This work will characterize stock structure, distribution, movement, spawning and survival within the Northwest Atlantic. 

Understanding likely movements, distributions and sub-stock structure of these species contributes to supporting economic growth. This information is relevant to fishing industries planning future investments in their operations. The work will explore the market consequences of improved stock and sub-stock delineation for consumer-driven certification schemes. It will also compare scientific knowledge with local fisher information regarding status and trends in these socio-economically important groundfish species.

Principal investigators:

  • Sara Iverson, Ocean Tracking Network
  • Aaron MacNeil, Dalhousie University
  • Jonathan Fisher, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Developing new approaches to fisheries management 

According to OFI researcher, Aaron MacNeil, Canadian fisheries operate with little formal input from fishers and other stakeholders. But social and cultural factors that affect how and why people fish directly impact sustainability.

“My experience speaking with fishers here in Nova Scotia has been remarkably similar to those in places like Australia or Kenya,” says Dr. MacNeil. “It is incredible how consistent fishers are in terms of how they see themselves and the strong sense of identity they have with their work. Unfortunately, most fishers are also facing similar threats to their livelihoods from pollution, overfishing, and climate change.

"By studying how others have dealt with these problems, we can develop a range of strategies for Canadian fishers and policy makers to help confront these problems in the future.”

Dr. MacNeil is aiming to develop a new approach to fisheries management for Canada that incorporates social and economic factors and considers the needs of the fishers balanced with the total catch.