Study: Nova Scotia’s Marine Ecosystem in Decline


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
January 8, 2009

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada-based research group GPI Atlantic this month released a report that claims years of overfishing larger species off Nova Scotia has left the province’s seafood industry vulnerable to today’s economic crisis.

“Fisheries and the Marine Environment in Nova Scotia: Searching for Sustainability and Resilience” states that the fishery is less diverse than before and is increasingly dependent on species lower in the food chain, notably lobster and other shellfish.

“Fishing down the food chain seemed to work for a while, with species like lobster and crab fetching high prices. That helped to buffer fishers from the social and economic fallout of the groundfish collapse,” says Dr. Tony Charles, a professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and the report’s lead author. “But now lobster prices are plummeting, and fishers cannot make a living from that fishery alone. Yet cod, sharks and other species higher in the food chain remain depleted. We’ve closed a lot of doors and there are few options for fishers to turn to when there is a crisis in the fishery.”

Published in GPI’s publication, Natural Capital, the report focuses on nine headline indicators, covering economic, social, ecological and community perspectives. It also lists several species that are considered vulnerable, threatened or endangered, with a handful now extinct. Stocks such as the Atlantic salmon, blue shark and winter skate are ranked vulnerable, while striped bass, mako shark and cusk have been listed as threatened.

The report can be viewed at

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