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Critical climate

Researcher part of team gauging health of Canada’s oceans

Dr. Ian Fleming

By Jeff Green

The two-week United Nations summit in Denmark this month devoted to climate change underscores the dire need for global leaders to find a framework for the world’s future environmental health, said a Memorial researcher.

Dr. Ian Fleming, a professor with the Ocean Sciences Centre, has just been appointed to a group of international experts tasked with gauging the health of Canada’s oceans.

He was named to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC)’s Expert Panel on Ocean Climate Change and Marine Biodiversity on Nov. 26.

He is one of 10 researchers who will soon begin working together to produce a new report looking at issues such as climate change, overfishing and biodiversity, all of which are related to various international treaties and conventions to which Canada is signatory.

Dr. Fleming said the future of the world’s longest coastline is about to get the attention it fully deserves.

“It is exciting to be invited to participate on this panel and address issues that are of such significance to Canada’s oceans,” he said. “The oceans have long been neglected in the Canadian psyche yet our oceans affect our everyday lives as Canadians through effects on such things as our climate.”

Concerns about the world’s changing climate played out on the international stage this month as environmental experts and world leaders from around the globe gathered in Copenhagen for the UN summit, which wraps up Dec. 18.
The goal was to try and reach a deal giving nations an outline for an official agreement set to be considered in 2010.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fleming said he will draw on his own fisheries ecology and aquaculture research, as well as other important ocean-related studies at Memorial.

He pointed to work being done in the Faculty of Science, such as the Memorial-led Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, the Community-University Research for Recovery Alliance, which is based out of the Faculty of Arts, and the Marine Institute.

“The collaborative research of my students and myself, together with others at Memorial and colleagues elsewhere in North America and Europe, is relevant to the issues that the panel will be discussing, whether related to environmental sustainability of aquaculture, fisheries and coastal communities or the dynamics of populations and communities of marine organisms,” he explained.

The expert panel will hold its first meeting in June 2010.

The RSC said the group’s report is expected to be completed and released to the public towards the end of 2012.