Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
Fisheries and Land Resources
August 24, 2017

Understanding Fish Stocks – Marine Institute Home to New OCI Industrial Research Chair for Fish Stock Assessment

An investment in excess of $2.5 million from industry, government, academia, donors and the Marine Institute will advance the way fish stock assessments for the Northwest Atlantic fisheries are conducted.

Dr. Noel Cadigan, a quantitative fisheries scientist with the Marine Institute, has been appointed as the Ocean Choice International Research Chair in Stock Assessment and Sustainable Harvest Advice for Northwest Atlantic Fisheries at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Over a five-year period, Ocean Choice International and InnovateNL will each contribute $500,000. Additional funding will be leveraged against the chair through the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) and the Marine Institute while the Robert and Edith Skinner Wildlife Management Fund at the Fisheries and Marine Institute will provide $500,000 to support the work of the chair. The funding will also assist in hiring two junior chairs in fish stock assessment.

A partnership among Memorial University, Dalhousie University, and the University of Prince Edward Island, OFI brings together researchers and institutes from both sides of the North Atlantic to understand the changing ocean and create safe, sustainable solutions for development.

The goal of the chair is to further the state-of-the-art and current practice in fish stock assessment and focus on sustainability objectives and requirements for Northwest Atlantic Fisheries and specifically those on the Grand Banks, NL including but not limited to American Plaice, Yellowtail flounder, Greenland Halibut and redfish. Research has already started with progress on all of these stocks.

Dr. Cadigan’s research will be interdisciplinary and involve advanced knowledge of practical and theoretical marine population and ecosystem dynamics, statistical and mathematical modelling, and computational science. Stock assessments involve models that integrate all relevant data on the population dynamics of a stock so the assessment produces the best advice possible for fisheries management.

As research chair, Dr. Cadigan will also train a number of master’s and doctoral students, expanding the province’s capacity and expertise to conduct and analyze assessment data and provide advice on stock sustainability. This will also help address a critical shortage of skilled fishery stock assessment scientists in Canada and internationally.

To that end, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will support the chair’s work by co-supervising graduate students along with the provision of fish stock data and advice to the chair’s research program.

The Robert and Edith Skinner Wildlife Management Fund at the Fisheries and Marine Institute was created from a gift reflecting the interests of the Skinners and their estate to support Memorial University researchers in the areas of aquaculture nutrition, wildlife ecology, fish stock assessment and sustainable harvesting.

Dr. Cadigan specializes in statistical methods for fish stock assessment and sustainable fisheries with the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER). He holds extensive experience in the assessment of Newfoundland fish stocks, and experience with other Canadian, American and European stocks.

He worked with Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in Newfoundland and Labrador from 1990 to 2011 and focused on the assessment of Atlantic cod and other groundfish stocks.

He received his doctor of philosophy in statistics at the University of Waterloo, and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Memorial University. Dr. Cadigan is a cross-appointed member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Memorial University and has supervised graduate students in statistics whose research involved applications to stock assessment problems.

“New models for stock assessment of the Northwest Atlantic fishery are critical to the long-term sustainability of the province’s oldest industry. By investing in this collaborative research and development, we are increasing expertise and potentially changing the way the fishery is managed in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore
Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

“Peaking at over $1.4 billion in production value in 2016, our provincial seafood industry employs approximately 17,500 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and is a major contributor to our provincial economy. As resources shift and groundfish stocks rebound, strong research and development will produce many of the innovations necessary to facilitate a large-scale transition across all corners of the industry.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources

“I’m looking forward to working with OCI, the fishing industry and all of our supporters to advance our understanding of our fish stocks and provide the most precise harvest advice possible. Our team and research will develop and implement an integrated state-space stock assessment model, with a more holistic modelling of productivity processes such as reproduction, growth and mortality, and how they can vary over time in response to ecosystem changes and the impacts on this on management reference points.”
Dr. Noel Cadigan
Ocean Choice International Research Chair in Stock Assessment and Sustainable Harvest Advice for Northwest Atlantic Fisheries

“At Ocean Choice International, sustainability is at the core of everything we do. We’re proud to invest in science right here in Newfoundland and Labrador, and to have committed partners in Memorial University’s Marine Institute and DFO. There is incredible value in industry, government and academia working together to advance our understanding of the marine environment."
Martin Sullivan
CEO of Ocean Choice International

“Our fish stocks are one of our most valuable natural resources and Dr. Cadigan’s research, with the support of OCI, government and our collaborators, will help ensure we sustain these stocks with more detailed information and analysis for more informed decision making. Establishing this chair at the Marine Institute will further our leadership role in fisheries research and contribute to our role in advancing unique, interdisciplinary ocean-related research and innovation within the Ocean Frontier Institute.”
Glenn Blackwood
Vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute)

“This will is going to create a lasting legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Bob and Edith would be pleased with how Memorial is putting their gift to good use.”
Jeff Follett
Executor for the Skinner Estate

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Tansy Mundon
Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
709-729-4653 , 693-1865

Rod Drover
Fisheries and Land Resources
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Kim Thornhill
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Paula Kieley
709 782-7122

2017 08 24                              1:35 p.m.