The American Lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery represents a large input into the Newfoundland economy with a landed value in 2005 of nearly $30 million (DFA). In recent years catches of lobster have declined, especially in the Placentia Bay area of the province.
The Center for Aquaculture and Seafood Development was contacted by the FFAW in 2008 to assist in developing a program of lobster enhancement for Placentia Bay. It was determined that hatchery reared lobster released into the bay was the best approach to take, based on other successful models in Maine and Massachusetts, USA, as well as in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Two completed projects in 2008 (Phase I) and 2009 (Phase II) have yielded many advances in the hatchery techniques and methods for the successful production of Stage IV lobster at the Marine Institute. This includes tank system set-up, spawning and larval rearing, feeding and growth. At the end of Phase II in 2009, more than 2500 Stage IV lobster were released at carefully chosen sites in Placentia Bay. Also completed were technical missions to a lobster hatchery in Nova Scotia as well as to the New England Aquarium in Boston.
The FFAW recognizes that for the short term, it is necessary to continue to refine early stage lobster rearing at the Marine Institute facility to build such knowledge capacity within the Province. For the longer term, a lobster enhancement program for Newfoundland will require a hatchery outside the Marine Institute facility. Combining the short and long-term necessities, the FFAW along with the Marine Institute, propose a Phase III project towards lobster enhancement in the province. Below are the objectives:
Technical mission to a lobster hatchery for a technology review of the latest tank, wastewater and feeding systems specifications specific to rearing lobster;
Modifications to lobster hatchery systems at Marine Institute to increase lobster-rearing success;
Production and release of Stage IV post larvae in selected areas of Placentia Bay;
Investigation of methods of measuring lobster release success BACI (before/after control/impact) and use of genetics as a method of tracking released lobster;
Implementation of a lobster health management strategy with assistance from the Provincial Aquatic Health Unit.