05/23/2012 08:08 EDT | Updated 07/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Lobster Science Centre staff cut as funding ends

About half the staff at the Lobster Science Centre in Charlottetown have been laid off as the centre waits to see if it will get more money from a federal regional development agency.

Two research scientists and four technicians were let go early this year, after ACOA funding for two major projects wrapped up. More than $5 million of Atlantic Innovation Funding supported two five-year projects that included lobster quality studies.

The Lobster Council of Canada is one of the groups that relies on the centre's research, and it's worried about the layoffs.

"The Lobster Science Centre has been with us all the way along. It would be a great shame if they weren't there," said executive director Geoff Irvine.

The centre is housed at the Atlantic Veterinary College. It is hoping to hear Thursday that it will receive another $3 million from ACOA for research. AVC Dean Don Reynolds said lulls in research funding aren't unusual.

"It's not unanticipated," said Reynolds.

"These are things that happen, and when we hire people they know they're for terms and they're for these projects."

This is the first time, however, that there have been layoffs at the Lobster Science Centre since it opened in the late 1990s.

Research will continue at the Lobster Science Centre because almost half its money comes from non-ACOA sources, said Reynolds, but obviously it has been scaled back.

Cuts have been also announced at the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans research arm. Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, doesn't like the trend.

"Especially with the federal government cutting back on their science part right now, we need this institution here to keep that up for us," said McGeoghegan.

ACOA will announce its latest funding for P.E.I. projects Thursday.