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The Huntsman’s Atlantic Reference Centre is conducting two studies of planktonic fish eggs and larvae in Passamaquoddy Bay. Principle funding for these studies is provided by New Brunswick’s Wildlife Trust Fund (WTF), administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Energy, and Environmental Trust fund (ETF), of the NB Department of Environment and Local Government.

The invertebrate plankton of the bay has been well studied in past decades, and phytoplankton is under current study. However, little is known about communities of fish eggs and larvae in Passamaquoddy Bay, such as distribution, seasonality, and impacts of man’s activities around the bay.

For two years the WTF has supported a study of the impacts of commercial rockweed harvesting on fishes living in the intertidal zone where rockweed resides. Additional sponsors were the Centrer for Marine Biodiversity and Acadian Seaplants Ltd. The study site is Hardwood Island in Passamaquoddy Bay and fish eggs and larvae have provided the best data from the study. Year 1 data gave a preliminary indication of an association between rockweed harvesting and changes in ichthyoplankton community structure, but sample number was low. Adding more samples to the analyses in Years 2 (analysis in progress) and 3 (funding application to be submitted) will corroborate or refute this preliminary observation of an association.
The ETF (“Your Environmental Trust Fund at Work”) is funding the first year of an investigation of the community, or communities, of fish eggs and larvae in Passamaquoddy Bay. Applications will be submitted for years two and three. Objectives are to 1) address the basic ecological questions of distribution, seasonality, and community structure, and 2) determine potential risk from industry practices. Three seasons of sampling have been completed in year one, and sample analysis is in progress; only winter sampling remains.

In both studies conclusions will be used to increase public awareness and to develop management advice on species, associations, and communities of fish eggs and larvae that may be at risk in Passamaquoddy Bay, with the goal of protecting and preserving fish species diversity and sustaining renewable fish resources there.

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