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Wading into new waters


Drs. Sherrylynn Rowe and Jonathan A. D. Fisher.

 

Dr. Sherrylynn Rowe remembers the day the northern cod moratorium was announced in July 1992. As a level III student at Bishops Collegiate in St. John's, she had no idea that 19 years later she would become part of a team set to play a vital role in the future of fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador.

As one of the newly appointed research scientists with the Marine Institute's Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER), Dr. Rowe will be studying aspects of population dynamics and conservation biology of marine fish populations.

"Essentially, we are trying to get a better understanding of what determines how many fish are in the sea and how many we can harvest without having negative consequences," said Dr. Rowe. "In the case of Newfoundland, where we have a severely depleted ground fish population, we are studying why the stocks have not rebuilt to the extent one might have anticipated."

Dr. Rowe most recently worked as a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia but is originally from St. John's where she completed her B.Sc. (honours) and M.Sc. in biology from Memorial University. She then went on to receive her PhD from Dalhousie University in 2004.

"I've always wanted to come back to Newfoundland to further my career," said Dr. Rowe. "When I saw the job posting for this position at CFER, I saw it as an amazing opportunity to work within a team of highly skilled, diverse individuals who bring differing levels of expertise to the table."

One of these team members is Dr. Jonathan A. D. Fisher. Dr. Fisher was also recently appointed as a research scientist with CFER as its ecosystem and food web specialist.

A native of Milton, Ont., Dr. Fisher spent many summers on Cape Breton island fishing with his family.

"I developed an interest in marine biology at a very young age and always knew it was something I wanted to pursue as a career," he said. "I actually worked on a summer project here in Newfoundland during my undergraduate studies at Queens and that propelled me towards my graduate work in the field."

Dr. Fisher was most recently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at Queen's University and the Ocean Sciences Division at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. He received a B.Sc. (honours) in biology from Queen's University in 2000 before going on to pursue his M.Sc. in biology from Dalhousie University in 2003. Dr. Fisher received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007.
Dr. Fisher's primary research goal will be to understand and quantify how human impacts and climate forcing alter the characteristics and recovery dynamics of temperate and sub-Arctic marine ecosystems, with a focus on Newfoundland and Labrador waters. Dr. Fisher is also currently an editor for the scientific journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Drs. Rowe and Fisher are only two of a group of research scientists planned for CFER. An additional three scientists and five technicians will be hired in the coming weeks. Graduate and postgraduate students will also train within the centre, providing new and immediate research opportunities for young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians interested in the fishery.

"This is my dream job," added Dr. Fisher. "This is such a strong group and has the potential to grow and become much bigger as we address the most challenging and fundamental questions that apply, not only to the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador, but to marine systems globally. CFER is definitely the place to accomplish this goal."

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, through the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the Research & Development Corporation (RDC), funded the formation of CFER in July 2010. Research led by the Marine Institute's newest centre will result in a better understanding of fish stocks and the productivity of Newfoundland and Labrador's marine ecosystem.

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