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Survey offers glimpse into changing ecosystem of southern Gulf of St. Lawrence


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MONCTON, N.B. — A survey of sea life in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence has found corals, sharks, sharp-toothed wolffish and even an unexpected invertebrate along with the crustaceans and groundfish that make the region a fishing mecca.

The chief biologist on the vessel said the annual survey — which looked at 66 species of fish — illustrates how the passing years have affected the same stretch of water.

“It’s striking to see the ecosystem is changing,” Nicolas Rolland said from Moncton, N.B.

“When you look at it 20 years ago or 30 years ago and what it looks like now, the abundance and amount of fish in the southern Gulf has decreased by quite a lot.”

The survey started in 1971 as a review of commercially important fish like cod and halibut, but has grown into an annual scientific assessment of all sea life hauled up from the deep.

Last September, a coast guard vessel carried crew members and federal scientists through the area roughly between the tip of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula and the tip of Cape Breton Island, to probe an ecosystem that lives largely out of sight.

Trawls brought sea creatures to the surface every two hours, and scientists sorted, measured, and assessed the age and stomach contents of as many specimens as they could before starting all over again.  

Rolland said the density of some fish species have dropped significantly, especially for groundfish like cod or American plaice. Rolland said some have seen a 90 per cent loss in population compared to 20 years ago.

The complicated factors behind the change are many: climate change, fishing and predators like seals all have likely played a role, he said.

But as some populations have dwindled, others have moved in or bounced back in a big way.

Most groundfish species appear to be in a population decline, but Rolland said crustacean populations like lobster and crab populations are on a continual rise. 

Small fish species like the tiny alligator fish — named for its ridged back and likeness to the southern predator — have appeared in higher numbers.

Others like tuna, striped bass and the red fish have seen an increase.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada say almost 50,000 fish and crustaceans were individually measured on the 2018 mission.

“The wet lab is not the prettiest place to be,” Rolland said. 

“It’s smelly, it’s wet, there’s water everywhere … it’s noisy, too, because we’re on the bottom level. Most of the time we have rough seas, too.”

But the work is worth it, he said, for the experience handling animals that aren’t typically seen outside an aquarium.

This past year, a sponge specialist was on board with a microscope, giving insight into the differences between the tiny species — including one previously unknown to the region, which may constitute a newly discovered species.

The team looked at a range of sea life from sea cucumbers and starfish to predators like small sharks.

The survey takes in a few endangered wolffish every year, taking extra care handling the sharp-toothed creatures that can grow up to 1.5 metres long, before releasing them back into the water.

Rolland said it’s exciting to show the deep-dwelling wolffish to the handful of students on board every year, who might only otherwise see one in an aquarium.

The survey’s results are used to set fishing quotas and define the species’ abundance, but they also play an important role in scientific research.

— By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John’s, N.L.

The Canadian Press

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JUST RELEASED: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0
It is the government’s responsibility to implement policies that protect the following:
1. Its citizens, their lives and their freedoms.
2. The economy in a manner that benefits that majority of its citizens, without mortgaging the wealth of future generations in favour of short-term gain or votes.
3. The environment in a manner that preserves the country for future generations without impeding, in any material way, the points listed above.
Canada is a global leader in clean technology and adheres to some of the highest environmental regulations in the world. We need to continue to build upon this expertise and deliver solutions to global problems.
Protecting the environment is a global issue. Banning tankers on the west coast of Canada or forcing domestic energy projects to comply with crippling regulatory requirements does nothing to change emissions in countries such as China or India. If we choose to ignore what happens beyond our borders we are doing a disservice to not only ourselves but to the world.
Moving forward, government must end ideological policies that alienate millions of Canadians, destroy tens of thousands of jobs and crush our economy. Canada can continue being a global leader of ethical, socially, and environmentally sourced energy. It is through our natural resources and the development of value-added products that Canadians can continue to enjoy a high standard of living. It is through cost-effective energy production that the world will continue to prosper.
Energy and environment have co-existed for years. It will continue to do so in the future. Instead of putting our energy industry on the sidelines, we must embrace all that it is capable of doing for us. Passive houses, small nuclear reactors, liquefied natural gas and other advanced technologies would not be possible without Canada’s energy industry and are immediate and proven environmental solutions.
ECCC proposes a plan rooted in crony capitalism, wealth distribution, higher energy prices and stifling regulation. The alternatives outlined in A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0 provide realistic free market options that will not only protect the environment, but create a prosperous future for all Canadians.
When considering which options are be best suited for Canadians going forward, consider the following. The Government of Canada has added significant power, spent hundreds of billions of dollars and regulated nearly everything over the past year and a half in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Have you been impressed with the results? If not, why would you expect ECCC’s plans for the economy and environment post-pandemic, to be any different?
Click the link below for the complete document.
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COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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Healthy Environment & Healthy Economy
We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.
On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.
The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:
1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste
2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community
3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back
4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage
5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities
In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.
This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.
This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.
Keep an eye out for the full report next week!
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june, 2021

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