Prov­ince launches fish­eries re­search pro­gram

Skin­ner and Roberts like pro­gram

The Compass - - NEWS - CLAY­TON HUNT

The govern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador be­gan a new era in the prov­ince’s tra­di­tional fish­ery on July 2 in an­nounc­ing a $ 14 mil­lion in­vest­ment which will sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand long-term sci­ence ca­pa­bil­i­ties for the prov­ince.

This marks the first time in the prov­ince’s his­tory that the pro­vin­cial govern­ment 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 Ecosys­tem Re­search. The prov­ince will work with Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity and its Fish­eries and Ma­rine In­sti­tute to de­velop and im­ple­ment the re­search pro­gram.

One of the great ad­van­tages of the new re­search pro­gram is that the prov­ince will no longer rely ex­clu­sively upon re­search of oth­ers to guide the fish­ery into the fu­ture.

The pro­vin­cial Min­is­ter of Fish­eries, the Hon­ourable Clyde Jack­man said, “ The fish­ery is a very im­por­tant in­dus­try to the fu­ture of the prov­ince and is crit­i­cally im­por­tant to costal com­mu­ni­ties. Bet­ter fish­eries man­age­ment through good fish­eries sci­ence is an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove and sus­tain this in­dus­try.”

Premier Wil­liams, in mak­ing the ma­jor an­nounce­ment, said, “ To­day, we once again take con­trol of our destiny by in­vest­ing in our own fish­eries re­search and devel­op­ment. Our govern­ment rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of re­search and devel­op­ment, 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. This in­vest­ment will help pro­vide the knowl­edge, ca­pac­ity and ex­per­tise nec­es­sary to en­sure a vi­brant, sus­tain­able fish­ery well into the fu­ture.”

To en­sure that sus­tain­able fish­ery of the fu­ture, Premier Wil­liams an­nounced that Dr. Ge­orge Rose, a New­found­lan­der and renowned fish­eries sci­en­tist, will be the new di­rec­tor of the Cen­tre for Fish­eries Ecosys­tem Re­search.

Dr. Rose is an in­ter­na­tion­al­ly­know fish­eries sci­en­tist and is widely con­sid­ered an in­ter­na­tional author­ity on At­lantic cod. He worked for eight years as a Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans sci­en­tist and has spent the past 15 years with the Ma­rine In­sti­tute.

Dr. Rose said that it’s very im­por­tant that the prov­ince have its own in­de­pen­dent re­search ca­pac­ity in­de­pen­dent of the fed­eral govern­ment or main­land in­ter­ests. He noted that peo­ple who have had very lit­tle con­tact with New­found­land fish har­vesters have al­ways been the ones to pub­lish stud­ies on North­ern cod.

Dr. Rose said, “ It’s about time that we did our own re­search into dif­fer­ent species in the New­found­land fish­ery and this is what we are start­ing to­day. This is a ma­jor com­mit­ment from the Wil­liams’ govern­ment, and it is a key turn­ing point in the his­tory of the New­found­land tra­di­tional fish­ery.”

Dr. Rose said that he has two main ob­jec­tives in his new role as di­rec­tor of the re­search cen­tre.

“My role, first and fore­most, is to con­tinue re­search that I have been in­volved with here in the prov­ince in the past 25 years or more. An­other very im­por­tant thing I want to do is to bring in new peo­ple on the pro­fes­sional, sci­en­tific, and tech­ni­cal lev­els and, more im­por­tantly, at the stu­dent level for the fu­ture.

“ We need to de­velop the next gen­er­a­tion of fish­eries sci­en­tists here who can con­tinue this im­por­tant work well into the fu­ture,” Dr. Rose said.

Dr. Rose will have some help in this task as the an­nounce­ment will fund a to­tal of 14 po­si­tions for search, technology and sup­port staff, In ad­di­tion, up to 20 fish­eries sci­ence grad­u­ate stu­dents will be en­gaged in the re­search on an an­nual ba­sis.

Mil­dred Skin­ner, a FFAW of­fi­cial who rep­re­sents fish har­vesters from Ren­con­tre East to Bur­geo, said that the re­search pro­gram is a pos­i­tive step go­ing for­ward in the New­found­land fish­ery. How­ever, Skin­ner has some con­cerns about the new re­search pro­gram.

She said, “Al­though I’m look­ing at this as a ap­pos­i­tive step, one im­por­tant thing about all of this is that the pro­vin­cial govern­ment and the fed­eral govern­ment has to work hand in to an­a­lyze the re­search done by both groups.

“ In ad­di­tion, fed­eral re­searchers do not al­ways lis­ten to fish har­vesters in their re­search projects, and I hope this will change big-time with the pro­vin­cial govern­ment pro­gram. Any sci­ence pro­gram needs to have the se­ri­ous in­put of fish har­vesters, and we need to be an ac­tive part of any re­search project.”

Dr. Rose em­pha­sized that the tra­di­tional fish har­vesters will be a part of the pro­vin­cial re­search projects.

He said, “ Our in­ten­tion is to work as closely as pos­si­ble with har­vesters and in­dus­try at large in solv­ing the prob­lems. This is an im­mense task, and it’s not some­thing that can be solved just by sci­ence or by in­dus­try or any other group act­ing alone.

“ It’s go­ing to take a com­bined ef­fort - we re­ally need to rein­vent our­selves and to do that we need all stake­hold­ers in the fish­ery on the same team.”

Jeff Roberts, who rep­re­sents fish har­vesters in the Her­mitage area said that one of the points that he likes about the pro­vin­cial pro­gram is that re­search projects will be aimed at in­shore or bay stocks and not just off­shore stocks which was usu­ally the case in the past.

Roberts said, “ This new pro­vin­cial re­search pro­gram bodes well for the fu­ture of the fish­ery. One of the things we’d like to see is if bay stocks of cod or other species are stocks on their own or part of larger off­shore stocks. Hope­fully this, and other key ques­tions, can be looked into later with this new pro­gram.”

In an­swer to Roberts’ con­cern, the govern­ment an­nounce­ment made on July 2 stated that $ 200,000 has been com­mit­ted for a highly so­phis­ti­cated in­shore fish­eries re­search ves­sel, the ‘ RV Ge­cho 11’. 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.

Dr. Rose con­cluded, “ We have the rich­est ma­rine ecosys­tem in the world which is one of the most valu­able as­sets that we have. All mod­ern fish­eries are based on sci­en­tific re­search, and this new pro­gram will have sig­nif­i­cant mean­ing for the New­found­land fish­ery of the fu­ture.”

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