April 26, 2012: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to highlight the positive work being undertaken by the Marine Institute’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, in part through funding from the Provincial Government. The work of Dr. George Rose and his team, without a doubt, is making a positive contribution to our province’s fishing industry of the future.

Mr. Speaker, the work of the centre focuses on offshore and coastal fisheries studies; international collaboration; and fisheries conservation studies. It also helps improve our research capabilities, and supports an ecosystem-based and precautionary approach to fisheries management. To that end, the work of the centre will undoubtedly give us a better understanding of our marine ecosystem to address challenges in our fishery in the future.

In July 2010, the Provincial Government announced over $11.7 million to establish the centre. A total of $6.5 million was for human resources and operational costs and $5.3 million for chartering an offshore fisheries research vessel, the RV Celtic Explorer. Approximately $3.8 million has been provided through Budget 2012 for the next installment of our government’s five year commitment.

The centre’s activities in the past year have been quite important and include the inshore cod survey in Trinity Bay and work on determining cod stock distribution and structure. This research supports the development and implementation of management measures to aid in the rebuilding of cod stocks of the province. The centre’s staff have also been preparing for the multispecies acoustic survey scheduled for this May along the south and northeast coast of the province utilizing the RV Celtic Explorer.

Mr. Speaker, it is worthy of note that the centre plans to examine further elements of the ecosystem in 2012 through predator/prey relationship studies and work to examine the implications of the high abundance of seals on commercial fish stocks.

Mr. Speaker, our government’s commitment to fishery science and ocean and coastal management speaks for itself – Budget 2012 contains investments totalling $4.5 million to expand on this critical component of our fishery.

The Provincial Government certainly looks forward to the work the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research will accomplish in the upcoming year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.