Bright future for Chair in Fisheries Conservation at Memorial
|Dr. George Rose
The Research Chair in Fisheries Conversation has been renewed for another five years with partnership funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Fishery Products International.
Dr. George Rose said results from the first five years' work have emphasized that rebuilding cod stocks cannot take place in a vacuum but must be considered with respect to the entire ecosystem. The research concentration of the group has been cod. However, to fully study this species, other factors such as interacting species (capelin, crab, shrimp), spawning cycles, and methods of conservation of all of the fisheries must be assessed.
For the past six years the group has focused on Placentia Bay as a key study area. At the beginning of the research work, there was no fishery in existence in the basin and no other research had been undertaken. However, the Placentia Bay area had the first reopened cod fishery (1997) after the moratorium and, to date, is the strongest cod fishery in Canada. This makes the area an especially unique ecosystem to continue to study.
The next five years
In building and developing research programs for the next five years, the group plans to continue research in the Newfoundland marine fisheries. The research can be used to incorporate and develop models for a more productive fishery for the benefit of the economy of Newfoundland.
"The chair is in a unique and privileged position in that it is the only fisheries group in Canada with access to sea time from DFO to conduct ocean research," Dr. Rose said. "This allows [us] to offer a broad base of experience and exposure in fisheries and marine environmental research for training graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Students go to sea regularly on small and large vessels. Training in boat handling skills and sophisticated marine scientific equipment such as navigation, acoustic and oceanographic tools is part of their research and training program."
The success of students is also evidence of the high quality of the ongoing research work. Students have been in high demand, with offers of employment or further education opportunities in British Columbia, Alaska, Washington State and New Zealand in fisheries related research. Their publication records have also been very strong.
Dr. Richard O'Driscoll, a native of New Zealand, entered into the research program as a post-doctoral fellow with full support from the New Zealand Science Council (equivalent body to Canada's NSERC). He spent two years with Dr. Rose studying cod-capelin interactions, and developed five primary publications that are now in the literature. He is now with the New Zealand Fisheries Research organization NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere) and is responsible for surveys and assessments of some of the major fish stocks of New Zealand's commercial fishery.
Stephan Gauthier will be the first PhD student to graduate from the chair when he defends his thesis in December. Mr. Gauthier completed his thesis on redfish ecology and acoustic surveying techniques. With his background in highly technical fisheries work, he was offered a fully funded post-doctoral fellow position at the University of Washington.
The Fisheries Conservation Chair has also developed a broad suite of collaborations over the last five years. These include collaborations with people in the various departments and faculties here at Memorial, particularly the strong academic links with the Biology Department, collaborations with the acoustic, capelin, and larval sampling groups at DFO, and international associations.
As part of a bilateral arrangement between Memorial and Moi University Department of Fisheries in Kenya, Dr. Rose is working with the Kenyan government and Wildlife Service on coastal fisheries projects. Kenya has a small boat, historic trap fishery that goes back over 2,000 years. In terms of world production, it is not considered a prominent fishery. However, in terms of employment and domestic protein supply, the industry is an important part of the country's economy.
Fisheries management in Kenya consists of protecting areas and therefore controlling fishing effort rather than issuing fishing quotas. This is somewhat similar to Canada's Marine Protected Areas initiative, although Kenya has had these areas for 50 years. "Their conservation ethic is way ahead of ours and is an interesting model for coastal fisheries," Dr. Rose said.
Dr. Rose is also a member of the Fisheries Resource Council of Canada (FRCC). He is currently the chair of team that looks at Newfoundland stocks and advises the Minister on policy and quotas for Atlantic Canadian commercial fish stocks. He feels that it is an important projected role for the chair in Fisheries Conservation to contribute to the FRCC.
Dr. Rose sees a tremendous future for the fishery and continued research in fisheries science in Newfoundland. It is important that consideration be given to the environmental side of the fisheries though. "Healthy fish stocks are predicated by a healthy marine environment". There are so many important research questions out there that the Chair simply cannot cover with such a small group.
The Fisheries Conservation Chair has led to a strong fisheries presence at Memorial. Dr. Rose hopes that this continues, as there is a strong demand for young fisheries scientists, especially those with qualitative skills.