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Executive Council
Fisheries and Aquaculture
July 2, 2010

Newfoundland and Labrador to Enter New Era of Fisheries Science Research

Having relied for decades upon the research of the Federal Government and others, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador today announced substantial investments which will significantly expand long-term fisheries science capabilities for the province. Included in the $14 million announcement by the Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, is $5.25 million to charter an offshore fisheries research vessel. This marks the first time in Newfoundland and Labrador's history that the province will solely fund and deploy a fisheries science vessel. In addition, the Provincial Government will invest in a suite of new fisheries science research programs, including the establishment of a new Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research. The province will work with Memorial University and its Fisheries and Marine Institute to develop and implement these programs.

Premier Williams made the announcement today at the Fisheries and Marine Institute, and was joined by the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Dr. Gary Kachanoski, President and Vice-chancellor of Memorial University, Glenn Blackwood, Executive Director of the Fisheries and Marine Institute, Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer of the Research & Development Corporation (RDC), Robert Verge, Managing Director of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI), and Dr. George Rose, well-known fisheries research scientist from the Marine Institute.

"Eighteen years ago today, our province was forever changed by the implementation of the moratorium on Northern cod," said Premier Williams. "On this anniversary, our government is announcing investments that will serve to once again change the face of the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, but this time in a much more positive and forward thinking direction. No longer will we exclusively rely upon the research of others to guide the fishery into the future. Today, we once again take control of our destiny by investing in our own fisheries research and development. Our government recognized the importance of R&D when we established the Research & Development Corporation, and today we take it to the next level by investing in the industry that has sustained us as a people for more than 500 years. These investments will help provide the knowledge, capacity and expertise necessary to ensure a vibrant, sustainable fishery well into the future."

Arrangements have already been made to secure the RV Celtic Explorer from the Marine Institute in Ireland for a Northern cod winter acoustic survey in early 2011. The RV Celtic Explorer is a 65-metre state-of-the-art fisheries research vessel, capable of conducting offshore acoustic surveys and other oceanographic work throughout the year in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the type of vessel that is required in order to enhance the understanding of the status of commercial fish stocks and the marine environment they live in. Such information will better enable the province's fishing industry to ensure sustainability of fish stocks, which is an increasingly important component of seafood marketing. The Provincial Government, in consultation with the Marine Institute, is pursuing further charter arrangements. As well, a more permanent vessel arrangement for the centre will be established after the initial charter arrangements are completed.

"The fishing industry is at the heart of the livelihood of the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister Jackman. "Our commitment to the fishing industry has been unwavering with investments such as the Fishing Industry Renewal Strategy, the Memorandum of Understanding with industry and a new oceans strategy. The fishery is a one billion dollar industry that has been in decline in the midst of the current global economic crisis. It is a very important industry to the future of the province and it is critically important to coastal communities. Better fisheries management through better fisheries science is an opportunity to improve and sustain this industry."

From the funding allocated, the Provincial Government will provide $11.75 million to establish the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research, at Memorial University's Fisheries and Marine Institute. This funding will provide $6.5 million toward the human resources and operating costs of the centre, over the next five years. Also, $5.25 million will be used to charter large vessels, such as the RV Celtic Explorer, for offshore research. Premier Williams announced today that Dr. George Rose will head this new organization.

"I am extremely pleased to announce that Dr. George Rose, a Newfoundlander and renowned fisheries scientist, will be the new director of the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research," said Premier Williams. "I have always had the greatest respect for this individual; not only for his knowledge and expertise, but for his passion for this province and I look forward to his continued contributions."

The Provincial Government also announced $2 million to fund CCFI and another $200,000 has been committed for a highly sophisticated inshore fisheries research vessel, the RV Gecho II. This vessel will enable research in coastal bays with unique habitats, inshore spawning and nursery habitats. It will also enable the province to better monitor inshore and offshore species migration.

"This announcement represents a significant stride forward for Memorial University's research effort," said Dr. Kachanoski. "With this support, the university can now direct serious attention to the challenges of understanding the dynamics of the fish stocks off our province's coasts. This is truly a significant milestone for Memorial, the Marine Institute and the province. I am thankful for this support and am confident it will bolster the work of the Marine Institute's School of Fisheries and increase Memorial's presence in these areas of research so vital to the economy of this province."

This new funding will dramatically improve the fisheries science research capabilities in the province and open up opportunities to collaborate with Canadian fisheries scientists, as well as other fisheries research bodies across the globe. This will include fisheries research organizations in Ireland, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand and the United States. As well, this investment will fund a total of 14 positions for research, technology and support staff. In addition, up to 20 fisheries science graduate students will be engaged in this research on an annual basis. This represents a significant increase in research capacity.

"For almost 50 years, the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University has been an unwavering supporter of the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Mr. Blackwood. "The fishery was the driving force behind our creation as a College of Fisheries in 1964 and it will continue to play a major role in the long-term future of this institution and our province. The funding announced here today will allow us to continue to collaborate with industry and governments to build on the capacity that already exists here in the province and ensure that the fishing industry remains a key pillar of sustainable economic development in the province."

One of the major factors in determining the success of the province's fishing industry is the ability to predict shifts in the province's marine ecosystem and the ability to respond to those changes. With the establishment of this new research centre, the province will now be better able to assess fish stocks and advise on how to manage them accordingly.

"This investment in building long-term fisheries science capacity within the province marks a significant milestone," said Mr. Janes. "The RDC is pleased to assist in establishing the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research and housing it at the Marine Institute gives the research undertaken a level of independence that will only enhance its credibility."

While the major focus of this research will be on fisheries, to the extent that resources permit, it may also be possible to explore other areas of oceans research and development. For example, it may be possible to engage in seabed mapping for the purposes of developing the province's oil and gas industry.

"The Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation is very pleased to be part of this announcement today," said Mr. Verge. "With the new funding the province is making available to CCFI, we will continue to draw on the capabilities of Memorial University and the Marine Institute in order to help the fishing and aquaculture industries take advantage of opportunities and solve problems. The Provincial Government's investment in CCFI will go directly into leading-edge research and development that will help the industry strengthen its international competitiveness. We are also very pleased with the establishment of the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research. We thank the Provincial Government for its continued forward thinking and investment in research and development. We look forward to working closely with the new centre on joint initiatives."

This new suite of fisheries science research programs will provide an opportunity for the province to better understand fish stocks and the health of the province's marine ecosystem. Changes in crab and shrimp stocks have been a concern for some time, as has the recovery of adjacent groundfish species. There have been serious issues with harp and grey seal populations, as harp seal populations have tripled since the 1970s. It is estimated that seals consume eight times the total harvest of all Canadian seafood. Improved fisheries science capabilities will enable the province to more effectively participate in federal and international fisheries management decision making, related to these issues.

"This initiative by the Williams Government supports a vision of a long-term future for the fisheries of Newfoundland and Labrador," said Dr. Rose. "It is an opportunity to permanently establish fisheries research at Memorial University and turns a whole new page in local research capacities. The initial focus will be on the most important fisheries research questions of the day, which cloud the essential rebuilding of groundfish stocks, in particular those of cod. This research will be locally based and vital to the future of the fisheries and of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. We hope to work closely with other researchers, particularly those at academic and other institutions, and government agencies."

Photo #1: The RV Celtic Explorer will be the province's new research vessel with the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research

Photo #2: The RV GECHO II will conduct sophisticated inshore fisheries research

Photo #3: News Conference regarding Fisheries Science investment at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University. (l-r) Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador; Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor of Memorial University; Glenn Blackwood, Executive Director, Fisheries and Marine Institute; Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer, Research & Development Corporation; Robert Verge, managing director of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation; Dr. George Rose, the new director of the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research.

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Media contacts:

Elizabeth Matthews
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
Andrea Nolan
Press Secretary
Office of the Premier
709-729-4304, 7270991
Lori Lee Oates
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
709-729-3733, 690-8403
Stephanie Barrett
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Fisheries and Marine Institute
709-778-0677, 687-6508
Libby Carew
Director, Marketing
Research & Development Corporation
709-758-0973, 728-6852
Ivan Muzychka
Associate Director (Communications)
Division of Marketing and Communications
Memorial University of Newfoundland
709-737-8665, 687-9433
Cathie Horan
Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation


Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research

The Provincial Government is investing $11.75 million toward the establishment of a Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research. The centre will be housed at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University and address the need for increased capacity in fisheries science in Newfoundland and Labrador by building on the capacity base that exists at the School of Fisheries. The centre will employ approximately 14 people including fisheries scientists, technicians and support staff.

Dr. George Rose will be director of the centre. Dr. Rose is an internationally-known fisheries scientist. He was born in St. John's and is widely considered an international authority on Atlantic cod. He holds a doctorate in biology from McGill University and was stationed in St. John's for eight years as a Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist. He has spent the last 15 years with the Marine Institute.

Dr. Rose has previously supervised the doctoral work of a number of students who have had to leave the province to find work upon completion of their education. Building the capacity for fisheries research in the province will provide an opportunity for highly qualified professionals to return to the province and for current students to stay when they graduate to contribute to greater understanding of our fishery resources and marine ecosystems.

Initially, the research projects will focus primarily on Northern cod, both inshore and offshore. As the centre expands its capabilities and capacity, the research projects will broaden in scope to include other species, studies of species interactions and their interaction with the environment.

The Provincial Government will work with the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University on the development and implementation of a governance structure that will determine research priorities and develop the work plan for the centre.

Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation

The Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) works with the fishing, fish processing and aquaculture industries to help them take advantage of opportunities and solve problems. In doing that, it provides a matchmaking service between the industry and the research and development (R&D) capabilities of the Marine Institute, Memorial University and other academic institutions. It provides funding for R&D projects, helps attract funds from other sources and manages projects to ensure they achieve their goals.

CCFI has operated successfully from a base at the Marine Institute for 21 years. During that time, it has collaborated with well over 200 clients and completed over 770 industry-driven research and development projects, at a cost of $94 million. For every dollar of government money invested in CCFI, it has leveraged five dollars from other sources including industry, academic institutions and other government programs.

CCFI's research and development have been undertaken during a period of major change, when our industries have been challenged by drastic reductions in our groundfish resources, globalization of markets, the emergence of aquaculture as a new supplier of fish products, rising energy costs, increasing concern about the industry's environmental footprint and rapid evolution of technology. Projects have covered a wide variety of areas including fish stock assessments, environmentally sustainable fish harvesting technology, vessel safety and productivity, energy efficiency, value-added seafood processing, waste management and aquaculture development. As a result of this work, CCFI has been a driving force behind industry progress in competitiveness and productivity.

It has also undertaken projects throughout Atlantic Canada, including with 13 colleges and universities in the region. Through that work, it has greatly increased the capacity to carry out leading edge fisheries and aquaculture research and development in the Atlantic Provinces.

With the new funding from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, CCFI is now positioned to push forward with a renewed program of research and development, designed to ensure that the fishing, fish processing, and aquaculture industries based in this province improve their global competitiveness and contribute to sustainable economic growth.

Research & Development Corporation

The Research & Development Corporation (RDC) is a provincial crown corporation that was established to improve Newfoundland and Labrador's research and development (R&D) performance. Incorporated under the Research and Development Council Act in 2009, RDC operates as an arm's length entity of the Provincial Government.

The mandate of RDC is to strengthen the focus, quantity, quality and relevance of research and development undertaken in the province, and elsewhere, for the long-term benefit of the province. Increased research and development activities will play a major role in driving innovation, creating wealth and increasing economic growth in Newfoundland and Labrador for future generations.

Over the long-term, RDC will provide leadership, strategic focus and planning in order to strengthen and improve the research system throughout the province. It has developed programs for its three client groups; industry, academia and government.

Industry programs provide financial investments to businesses to encourage or support R&D activities that can reasonably be expected to benefit the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. While the RDC's core industry programs, R&D Vouchers and R&D Proof of Concept, are open to all industrial sectors, specialized programming is targeted at the RDC's focus areas of energy and ocean technology.

Academic programs are delivered under the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund (IRIF). These programs are designed to build a strong foundation of quality research and research personnel in the province's publicly-funded post-secondary institutions.

For more information about the RDC, go to

RV Celtic Explorer

The Fisheries and Marine Institute is currently finalizing arrangements to charter the RV Celtic Explorer from the Marine Institute in Ireland for its initial project. The Irish Institute has a significant fisheries acoustic program and operates the RV Celtic Explorer, which is a state-of-the-art 65.5 metre fisheries research vessel capable of conducting offshore acoustic surveys and other oceanographic work, throughout the year in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador.

This is the type of vessel that meets the new Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research specifications with respect to specialized equipment, distance and weather capabilities, and importantly, it is compliant with minimum sound requirements needed for acoustic surveying. The vessel is also equipped for scientific trawling (fishing) and oceanographic research.

The first research project carried out will be an offshore acoustic survey during the winter of 2011. This is different than the bottom trawl research that is currently being carried out by the Federal Government. As well, this new research will apply different technologies and research techniques that are not currently being used.

It is anticipated that the initial research carried out by the Fisheries and Marine Institute will be specific to Northern cod which is currently being harvested through a very restrictive stewardship fishery. However, there will be research conducted on other species in the future.

The Provincial Government, in consultation with the Marine Institute, is pursuing further charter arrangements for the next three years. Concurrent with this, the parties will conduct a thorough assessment of a purpose-build offshore fisheries and oceanographic research vessel similar to the RV Celtic Explorer for long-term application, after the charter arrangement is completed.


The RV GECHO II is a 10 metre fisheries research vessel, designed for work in the coastal waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. This vessel will enable research in coastal bays with unique inshore spawning and nursery habitats. It will also enable the province to better monitor inshore and offshore species migration.

The vessel is specifically equipped for surveying fish with two scientific echo sounders, firing five transducers that are capable of detecting and measuring marine life from plankton to large fish, double Global Position Systems, a bridge echo sounder, radar, and VHF and Sirius radios, all of which are networked for data sharing.

The hull and cabin were custom built by Milton Fibreglass in Shoal Harbour. Blue Water Marine and Equipment Ltd. of Mount Pearl outfitted the propulsion system. Custom aluminum and steel work for the sonar deployment system were completed by ProArc Fabrication Ltd. of Mount Pearl. Storage batteries and the inverter system for the scientific equipment were supplied by Solar Winds Energy of Clarenville.

Additional equipment includes an array of telemetry equipment for tracking tagged fish, tow equipment for capturing early life stage fish and a Remote Operated Vehicle. As well, there is an oceanographic winch and CTD that is capable of temperature and salinity measurements, to a depth of 500 metres. Safety equipment includes survival suits, a Zodiac life raft and a GPIRB, supplied by Atlantic Electronics Ltd. of Mount Pearl.

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