Nfld. & Labrador

Labrador shrimp fishery seeing boon from rising ocean temperatures

A journalist who covers the seafood industry says global warming may be wreaking havoc on the world's fish stocks as a whole, but could be related to bigger shrimp catches recently off the coast of Labrador.
Despite a decline in shrimp stocks elsewhere in the world, northern areas such as the Labrador coast are actually seeing a spike in populations. (CBC)

A journalist who covers the seafood industry says global warming may be wreaking havoc on the world's fish stocks as a whole, but could be related to bigger shrimp catches recently off the coast of Labrador.

John Sackton is the publisher of SeafoodNews.com, a website that claims to be the most widely-read daily seafood publication in North America. He told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning that this past year has been a boon for Labrador's shrimp fishery.

John Sackton is the editor and publisher of seafoodnews.com (SeafoodNews.com)

"This has been one of the best years for shrimp that people have ever seen off the coast of Labrador — and also off of Newfoundland," he said.

"Prices have been high and the fishermen have been very happy with what they received."

While bigger and more plentiful shrimp off the Labrador coast have been factors contributing to the bottom line, also driving up the cost of the product is a decline in shrimp in more southern areas — which traditionally were the main harvesting grounds.

"There's been a downturn in global shrimp all throughout the northeast Atlantic and northwest Atlantic," said Sackton.

Sackton said shrimp are a cold water species, and do not respond well to rising ocean temperatures.

He said Labrador benefits from changes in water temperature, which in addition to causing the shrimp populations to move further north, also has meant more snow crab and turbot off the coast.

The decline in global shrimp stocks has also driven up the price. (CBC)

The decline in populations elsewhere has also caused the global price of shrimp to rise, which is also benefiting Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters.

That news could be bittersweet however, as it reflects a changing environment that could mean less overall shrimp in the world's oceans.

Sackton said while the water is definitely getting warmer in seas and oceans, he said it's still not completely clear how much of that change can be attributed to human causation and how much is just natural cyclical change.

"There is a cyclical change in ocean conditions, and it's not 100 per cent attributable to global warming," he said.

"It's quite possible that the warmer climate amplifies the speed of that change."

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