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The phenomenon of hypoxia, defined by a decrease in oxygen levels, concern the scientific community. “Below a certain oxygen concentration threshold in deep water, the environment becomes incompatible with the life of many marine species,” said Ms Ait Youcef.
Entitled “Spatial distribution of Greenland halibut Reinhardtius hippoglossoides in relation to abundance and hypoxia in the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence,” the awarded article from the Nature and Technology Fund was published in January. ” My study demonstrate a significant association between the hypoxic zones present in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence and the spatial distribution and abundance of the Greenland halibut, which is one of the main species subject to a commercial fishery, ” says PhD student in oceanography.
The work of Ms Ait Youcef have shown that the greater abundance of Greenland halibut is found in habitats characterized by low levels of oxygen. “We see this particularly in juvenile halibut, both in period of low or high abundance. This makes it possible to clearly identify the estuary of the St. Lawrence as the main nursery for this halibut population and indicates the presence of a high tolerance to hypoxia in this species, “said Wahiba Ait Youcef.
The marked presence of Greenland halibut in hypoxic areas of the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence leads the fishing industry to address its management and operation. Through her work, the UQAR-ISMER researcher allow to better anticipate the impact of a decrease in oxygen levels on the abundance and growth of this species. Note that Ms. Youcef works on her PhD under the direction of Professor Céline Audet, specialist in ecophysiology and aquaculture.