PEI

Researcher looks to add fishery voices to climate change research

Working in the lobster fishery, Marlene Chapman was quick to notice there was something missing in the literature when she began her masters studies on how climate change is affecting it.

‘The fishermen’s opinion is not something that gets documented so much’

Marlene Chapman has been fishing lobster out of Murray Harbour for five years. (Submitted by Marlene Chapman)

Working in the lobster fishery, Marlene Chapman was quick to notice there was something missing in the literature when she began her masters studies on how climate change is affecting it.

"I can access the scientific thinking, and I can actually access a lot of the government thinking too," said Chapman.

"The fishermen's opinion is not something that gets documented so much. So I just felt like, if I was going to add anything to the conversation, I could maybe fill in the gap by bringing the fisherman's voice forward."

Chapman moved back to P.E.I. five years ago after spending years working in downtown Calgary, and took up lobster fishing out of Murray Harbour with her husband. She retained an interest in academics, and signed up for a master's degree in Island Studies at UPEI.

Mixed opinions

During her studies, she read about conservation efforts in the area where she and her husband were fishing.

"From there it was basically like hook, line and sinker for me. I couldn't get enough. I spent months and months researching the history of the lobster fishery," she said.

And this is how she noticed the gap in what was available, and decided to fill it.

Chapman said the main thing she is finding so far is that there is no prevailing opinion on climate change among fishermen, which reflects their varied backgrounds and experiences.

This all started to feel very personal and very real for me.- Marlene Chapman

"I also found researchers in Maine who have been raising alarm bells for a number of years about the situation, calling it kind of a high-risk scenario for the region's economy…

"So given that I live and work in a fishing community, this all started to feel very personal and very real for me."

She is still looking to talk to another 15 or so fishermen before they start getting busy for the spring season.

Her interviews are done on the phone and take about a half hour. Fishermen interested in participating can reach her at 902-213-0726.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Jesara Sinclair

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