On Saturday, June 2, the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, highlighted a $3.8 million investment in fisheries science at the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research and received a first-hand update on the research being conducted aboard the RV Celtic Explorer. The RV Celtic Explorer is the first fisheries science and oceanographic research vessel charter to be funded by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Marine ecosystems research is a key component of effective resource management and advancing the fishing industry in a sustainable way for the future,” said Minister King. “By providing extensive funding again this year to the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research we can ensure the necessary scientific work is conducted to contribute to a sustainable fishery for the current generation and future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

In Budget 2012: People and Prosperity – Responsible Investments for a Secure Future, $3.8 million was allocated for the next installment of a five-year commitment. Through the funding, the RV Celtic Explorer was chartered from the Marine Institute of Ireland. The chartering of the RV Celtic Explorer is one of the many initiatives of the Marine Institute’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research. Its work contributes to the body of knowledge that will build expertise in managing the fishing industry.

“The Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research’s activities, like the recent survey undertaken by the RV Celtic Explorer, are critical to creating a long-term vision of sustainable fisheries and healthy coastal communities for the betterment of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Glenn Blackwood, Vice President, Memorial University (Marine Institute). “In just two short years, in part through the support of the Provincial Government, we have conducted two major offshore surveys, and attracted world-renown scientists and graduate students to build our capabilities and capacity to undertaken the much needed research.”

During the recent survey, the centre’s team of three scientists, five biologists, one post-doctoral fellow and six graduate students undertook an acoustic-trawl survey of spawning adult cod on the northeast coast; cod satellite tagging; an ichthyoplankton survey; an oceanographic survey of water temperature and isotopes; a multispecies acoustic survey along the south coast of the province; and a study to determine ecosystem function which impact on stock productivity. Research activities in the past year also notably included the inshore cod survey in Trinity Bay and work on determining cod stock distribution and structure. The centre is also experimenting with pop-up satellite tags on large cod to provide information on their migration patterns and behavior. This is groundbreaking research as this is the first study to use these types of tags on cod.

Minister King was joined aboard the vessel on Saturday by: students from Holy Name of Mary Academy (Lawn), Holy Heart of Mary High School (St. John’s), and O’Donel High School (Mount Pearl); Glenn Blackwood, Vice President, Memorial University (Marine Institute); Carey Bonnell, Head of the School of Fisheries; Dr. George Rose, Director, Tom Brown, Administrative Director, Dr. Sherrylynn Rowe and Dr. Jonathan Fisher all of the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research; and, Irish Marine Institute representatives.

The tour included an overview on a number of various aspects of the vessel such as the bridge, science lab, and a wet lab. The Celtic Explorer arrived in port in St. John’s on Friday, June 1, ending the survey and restocking for the return to Ireland.