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Shrimp are endangered in the Gulf, scientists say.

Alarming conditions for northern shrimp in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

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Northern shrimp.

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The northern shrimp is poorly resistant to warming of the waters and the drop in the oxygen level in the estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The small crustacean finds itself in increasingly extreme conditions, according to Fisheries and Oceans, which is leading to a shrinking of its habitat.

In a scientific update on the repercussions of ocean warming on northern shrimp, Fisheries and Oceans Canada explains that we are heading towards a shrinking of the regions where the crustacean can survive and reproduce.

This is explained by an increase in water temperature – mainly the deep water layer – in the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Scientists observed an average warming of the temperature of this layer of 1.8 degrees Celsius over 13 years (between 2009 and 2022).

The layer Deep water is, as its name suggests, the deepest layer of the ocean. This is where the water is usually the coldest and where northern shrimp are mainly found.

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Shrimp fishermen notice that the resource is less and less abundant. (File photo)

Warming water temperature also comes with a decrease in the amount of oxygen found in it. A drop in oxygen in the water is generally not good for most species, including northern shrimp.

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Scientists have noticed a drop in oxygen levels of 70% in the Saint Estuary -Laurent over the past 50 years.

The northern shrimp is a cold-water species. With warming and the depletion of oxygen in the water, the northern shrimp is currently in extreme conditions.

A quote from Marie-Julie Roux, scientific researcher at Fisheries and Oceans

Fisheries and Oceans scientists are categorical: we are currently observing a decrease in the quantities of shrimp in the Gulf.

Marie-Julie Roux specifies, however, that for the moment, there is no fear that the shrimp will disappear.

On the other hand, the deep layer is increasingly hot and the conditions are more and more unfavorable, especially if we add the drop in oxygen levels, she specifies.

Shrimp fishermen are not surprised to learn the most recent findings from Fisheries and Oceans.

To learn this simply confirms what people have been saying for a long time. Whether we will witness the complete disappearance of the northern shrimp remains to be seen, declares the general director of the Acadian Regional Federation of Professional Fishermen, Jean Lanteigne.

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The general director of the Acadian Regional Federation of Professional Fishermen, Jean Lanteigne. (File photo)

Fishermen, however, believe that there is another element which explains the difficulties of the small crustacean: the increasingly strong presence of its main predator, the redfish, in the waters of the estuary and the Gulf of Saint- Laurent.

We've been seeing a decline [in shrimp] for several years now, says the president of the Association of Captains-Owners of Gaspésie, Vincent Dupuis. The ministry says that it is linked to global warming and the decrease in oxygen stocks, yes that is true, but we have seen a decline in stocks faster than normal because the redfish have come on board.

The drop is drastic, it’s unheard of.

A quote from Vincent Dupuis, president of the Association of captains-owners of Gaspésie

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The president of the Association of captains-owners of Gaspésie, Vincent Dupuis. (Archive photo)

Jean Lanteigne believes that this is one more reason for the federal government to support shrimpers, in order to help them to avoid bankruptcy.

In addition, a meeting is planned for Thursday between the federal Minister of Fisheries Diane Lebouthillier and representatives of the Association of Captains-Owners of Gaspésie, Acadian Regional Federation of Professional Fishermen and Fish, Food & Allied Workers.

With information from Héloïse Rodriguez and Louis-Philippe Trozzo

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