Étudiante-chercheure étoile June 2013

Wahiba Ait Youcef

PhD student in Oceanography
Université du Québec à Rimouski

Award-winning publication: Spatial distribution of Greenland halibut Reinhardtius hippoglossoides in relation to abundance and hypoxia in the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence

Published in: Fisheries Oceanography, 22(1), 41–60, January 2013


"My study revealed a significant link between the hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence and the spatial distribution and abundance of the Greenland halibut, a fish of significant commercial importance. The results point to a much greater abundance, especially of the juvenile halibut, in low-oxygen habitats, regardless of the state of the stocks. Thus, this clearly identifies the Estuary as the main hatching ground for the halibut population, and suggests the species' high tolerance to hypoxic conditions."

Hypoxia has become a major concern for members of the scientific community, and many marine species cannot survive in deep waters below a certain threshold of oxygen concentration. Greenland halibut is one of the main commercial fish species, and its strong numbers in the hypoxic areas of the Gulf and Estuary raise several key issues for its future management and development. Wahiba Ait Youcef's work has made it possible to determine the Greenland halibut's tolerance to hypoxic conditions and growth in low-oxygen environments in order to better anticipate the impacts of even lower oxygen levels on the species' abundance and evolution.