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Fisheries and Aquaculture
June 4, 2012

Budget 2012 Investment Continues Strong Commitment to Fisheries Ecosystems Research

On Saturday, June 2, the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, highlighted a $3.8 million investment in fisheries science at the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research and received a first-hand update on the research being conducted aboard the RV Celtic Explorer. The RV Celtic Explorer is the first fisheries science and oceanographic research vessel charter to be funded by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Marine ecosystems research is a key component of effective resource management and advancing the fishing industry in a sustainable way for the future,” said Minister King. “By providing extensive funding again this year to the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research we can ensure the necessary scientific work is conducted to contribute to a sustainable fishery for the current generation and future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

In Budget 2012: People and Prosperity – Responsible Investments for a Secure Future, $3.8 million was allocated for the next installment of a five-year commitment. Through the funding, the RV Celtic Explorer was chartered from the Marine Institute of Ireland. The chartering of the RV Celtic Explorer is one of the many initiatives of the Marine Institute’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research. Its work contributes to the body of knowledge that will build expertise in managing the fishing industry.

“The Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research’s activities, like the recent survey undertaken by the RV Celtic Explorer, are critical to creating a long-term vision of sustainable fisheries and healthy coastal communities for the betterment of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Glenn Blackwood, Vice President, Memorial University (Marine Institute). “In just two short years, in part through the support of the Provincial Government, we have conducted two major offshore surveys, and attracted world-renown scientists and graduate students to build our capabilities and capacity to undertaken the much needed research.”

During the recent survey, the centre’s team of three scientists, five biologists, one post-doctoral fellow and six graduate students undertook an acoustic-trawl survey of spawning adult cod on the northeast coast; cod satellite tagging; an ichthyoplankton survey; an oceanographic survey of water temperature and isotopes; a multispecies acoustic survey along the south coast of the province; and a study to determine ecosystem function which impact on stock productivity. Research activities in the past year also notably included the inshore cod survey in Trinity Bay and work on determining cod stock distribution and structure. The centre is also experimenting with pop-up satellite tags on large cod to provide information on their migration patterns and behavior. This is groundbreaking research as this is the first study to use these types of tags on cod.

Minister King was joined aboard the vessel on Saturday by: students from Holy Name of Mary Academy (Lawn), Holy Heart of Mary High School (St. John’s), and O’Donel High School (Mount Pearl); Glenn Blackwood, Vice President, Memorial University (Marine Institute); Carey Bonnell, Head of the School of Fisheries; Dr. George Rose, Director, Tom Brown, Administrative Director, Dr. Sherrylynn Rowe and Dr. Jonathan Fisher all of the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research; and, Irish Marine Institute representatives.

The tour included an overview on a number of various aspects of the vessel such as the bridge, science lab, and a wet lab. The Celtic Explorer arrived in port in St. John’s on Friday, June 1, ending the survey and restocking for the return to Ireland.

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Photo 1: Dr. George Rose, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research; Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Glenn Blackwood, Vice President, Memorial University (Marine Institute).

Photo 2: The crew of the RV Celtic Explorer and students from the Marine Institute join Glenn Blackwood, Vice President of Memorial University (Marine Institute); the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Education; Dr. George Rose, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research; and, Aodhan Fitzgerald from the Irish Marine Institute, on the bridge of the Celtic Explorer.

Photo 3: The RV Celtic Explorer departing port in St. John’s, Newfoundland for the return trip to Galway, Ireland.

Media contacts:

Bradley Power
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
709-729-3733, 699-5707
Kimberley Thornhill
Educational Marketing Coordinator
Fisheries and Marine Institute
709-778-0544, 691-9221

Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research

The Provincial Government invested $11.75 million toward the establishment of a Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research in 2010. The centre is housed at the Marine Institute of Memorial University and addresses 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 employs fisheries scientists, technicians and support staff.

Dr. George Rose is the 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 17 years with the Marine Institute.

RV Celtic Explorer

The Marine Institute has chartered the RV Celtic Explorer from the Marine Institute in Ireland. 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.

2012 06 04             9:50 a.m.

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