Lobster-IBM

 
2002-2004, St John Bay, Newfoundland, Canada

The aim of this project was to develop a formal model of the lobster fishery in St John Bay, Newfoundland, Canada for exploring management options, regulations and the impacts of possible environmental changes. More specifically the project aimed at analysing the intricate spatio-temporal relationships between the physical environment, the lobsters, and the fishermen and at capturing these in a formal computer based model. The model is structured as generically as possible in order to apply it (with minor modifications) to other areas and other fisheries. The model and the encompassing information system demonstrate the effectiveness of combining a Cellular Automata model (for modelling the lobster population and movements) and an Individual Based Model (for modelling the harvesters behaviours) as part of a decision support tool for policy-making and planning of the lobster fishery in its full bio-physical, environmental and social complexity. The project involved a collaboration between Memorial University of Newfoundland, the National Institute for Coastal and Marine ManagementRIKZ), and the Research Institute for Knowledge Systems. Experiences with Individual Based and Cellular Automata Models from earlier exercises carried out by RIKZ and RIKS have been applied and complemented with extensive field research and modelling work carried out by Memorial University. While Memorial University was very much involved in understanding the dynamics of the lobster fishery itself, the interest in this project on behalf of RIKZ and RIKS was much more on the performance and capability of Individual Based and Cellular Automata models as practical tools for management and policy-making. The management tool has been implemented in Geonamica and has been operational since November 2003. Since then it has undergone major improvements, has been calibrated, and has been tried out on a number of real policy measures.

[b]The Lobster fishery of St. John Bay.[/b]
This project focuses on the lobster fishery of St John Bay, on the west coast of the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland. The lobster fishery of St. John Bay is very important to the local economy. Local lobster habitat is among the best in the province and there are several hundred harvesters from several communities who fish these waters. In this area, as in others, the closure of the cod and other ground fish fisheries in the early 1990ís was associated with increased effort directed at lobster and related serious declines in local lobster stocks. As a result of the declines in the northern cod stocks traditional cod fishermen transferred lobster licenses from the Bonne Bay area (south of St John Bay) into St John Bay during the mid to late 1980ís. The addition of these new harvesters and the fact that many harvesters began lobster fishing the entire season has produced a situation of encroachment and crowding on traditional territories, expansion of these territories and utilization of areas in the bay that were once untouched. The department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) policy changes are now preventing fishermen from fishing outside of St. John Bay. Policies are also preventing them from accessing crab and shrimp licenses, and from accessing reasonable cod catches. As a result, they are trapped inside a very crowed St John Bay lobster fishery. Increased fishing pressure is threatening local lobster stocks and undermining individual lobster landings thereby threatening harvesterís social and economic futures.

[b]Coasts Under Stress Project[/b]
This project is part of the larger Coasts Under Stress project (CUS), which involves a major collaborative effort between Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Victoria, in addition to several other universities and partner agencies in Canada and the United States. The goal of CUS is to identify the ways in which changes in society and the environment of coastal areas around Newfoundland and British Columbia have affected or, will affect the health of people, their communities and the environment over the long run. They also want to develop improvements in policy affecting these coastal areas. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) jointly fund the CUS project, with additional funding from participating universities and partners in government, business, non-governmental organizations and First nation groups.