The Eastport Peninsula Lobster Protection Committee has used closed areas as one of several tools to protect and conserve the local lobster populations for over 10 years. The areas around Duck Islands and Round Island in Eastport, Newfoundland have been closed to lobster fishing since 1997 and were officially designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in 2005. Lobster research and monitoring of the MPAs has been a priority since designation, with the research agenda developed based on the questions:
Are the MPAs effective in conserving the lobster population? and Is spillover from the MPAs enhancing local fisheries?
In 2007, MUN researchers began sampling for larval lobsters inside the Round Island Marine Protected Area and in nearby Little Harbour, White Island, and North Broad Cove. The greatest numbers of larvae were found consistently in the Round Island closed area, however, all larvae sampled were relatively recently released (stage I) larvae. Studies elsewhere have established a correlation between the presence of stage IV larvae and settlement. In this study, we continue sampling for larval lobsters in the Round Island MPA and adjacent areas, expanding our previous sampling range to cover a larger geographic area within Newman Sound with the specific objective of locating stage IV larvae.
The objectives of this project include: (a) examination of larval lobster supply by conducting neuston tows in the Round Island MPA and nearby areas in Newman Sound, and (b) experiments on larval behavioural response to light and stage IV larval behavioural response to the presence of conspecifics during settlement.
Neuston tows detected larvae at all locations sampled, however only newly hatched, stage I larvae were present, and overall numbers were low compared with other locations, for example, Bonne Bay yielded larvae of all stages and higher abundance.
As in earlier studies, larval behavioural response to light was contradictory. The experiments with stage IV post larvae indicated a tendency to settle with those at the same stage, this effect does not endure past the first hour.