The various initiatives undertaken by Homarus Inc. to achieve its objectives today translate into five areas of activity: (1) Resource Enhancement, (2) Stock Assessment, (3) Environment (4) Fishermen Economic Viability and (5) Education.
1. Resource enhancement
The artificial reefs project has resulted in the conception of a unique and innovative lobster reef design. The technology has since proven itself and is now used on a standard basis for the development of coastal marine habitats. Since 2003, approximately 60,000 structures have been deployed to create over twenty artificial reefs across Atlantic Canada.
Since its inception in 2002, this project has demonstrated that lobster seeding can have a significant impact on lobster populations and that this activity can be economically viable. Research has enabled the development of highly efficient hatchery techniques for producing large quantities of seed lobsters (500,000 lobsters/year) at very low costs ($ 0.25 / larva; 40% of survival to fishing). More than 3 million lobsters have been seeded in twenty areas of Atlantic Canada since the beginning of the project.
2. stock Assessment
Since 2011, this area of activity focuses on gathering information on lobster population structure and abundance through an at-sea (fishery dependant data) and SCUBA (fishery independent data) sampling program performed in several areas of East Coast New Brunswick (Lobster Fishing Areas 23 and 25). This information on lobster stock status is essential for sustainable fisheries management and for a better management of the seeding and lobster reefs programs.
Active since 2006, this area of activity counts several research projects aimed at understanding the interactions between the environment and lobster. These projects can be divided into four themes: (1) environmental contaminants (ecotoxicology, pyrethroids, eco-genomics), (2) climate change (ocean acidification), (3) lobster benthic ecology (temperature, sedimentation, predation), (4) and the development of physiological condition indices for lobster.
4. fishermen economic viability
Although the resource can be healthy and abundant, the economic situation for fishermen can be difficult in a context of rising costs and stagnant lobster prices. This area of activity currently has three projects aimed at improving fishermen economic viability: (1) Alternative lobster bait development, (2) lobster quality assessment on the East Coast of New Brunswick and (3) the development of an electronic fishing log book.
The Homarus Eco-Centre (Est. 2013), located at the Pointe-du-Chene Wharf (New Brunswick), aims to raise awareness and educate people about the world of lobster and its ecosystem through interactive guided presentations. The initiative also offers on-site youth educational programming for schools and daycares during the summer and continues throughout the fall when the program takes the road with a mobile exhibition (Mobile Laboratory).