Memorial University of Newfoundland and its Harris Centre have signed a collaborative agreement with The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada for research and monitoring of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Marine Protected Areas Monitoring and Research Program Design and Implementation” formalizes the working relationship between Memorial and DFO's Oceans and Habitat Management Branch MPA Program. The agreement will make developing research and monitoring programs for MPAs more efficient by building on the strengths of both DFO and Memorial. Memorial graduate students, in particular, will benefit though funding that supports their research that advances understanding of MPAs throughout the province and the world.
The Harris Centre co-ordinates and facilitates Memorial's educational, research and outreach activities in the areas of regional policy and development. It acts as a point of contact for stakeholders looking to work with the university.
This collaboration agreement with DFO is a great example of an initiative linking communities, government and the university to advance sustainable development of our marine resources, said Dr. Rob Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre.
The goal of Canada's Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy is to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas. Newfoundland and Labrador has two of Canada's five designated MPAs. Eastport and Gilbert Bay were designated as MPAs on Oct. 11, 2005, and a third location in Leading Tickles has been identified as an Area of Interest (AOI). MPA research and monitoring has been carried out at all three locations by biologists and scientists from Memorial and DFO, and the development and evaluation of the Leading Tickles site as a potential MPA is ongoing.
The MPA projects are community-led initiatives and each site has unique conservation objectives which are scientifically assessed and monitored. The co-operation of communities, stakeholders and such institutions as Memorial and DFO is necessary to improve the health, integrity, and productivity of our ocean ecosystems for future generations.
The agreement will see Memorial students and faculty working with DFO to research and monitor MPAs and AOIs in order to meet conservation objectives and ensure the effectiveness of management measures that are implemented.
Faculty members at Memorial have a long history of collaborative research with DFO scientists, including research on physical oceanography, fisheries oceanography, fish habitat and marine environmental quality, said Dr. David Schneider, associate dean of Science (Research) at Memorial. "This collaborative agreement enhances future DFO and Memorial collaboration by recognizing the contributions that both make to a project.”