Newfoundland Unveils Big-Time Research Vessel

Newfoundland Unveils Big-Time Research Vessel
Newfoundland Unveils Big-Time Research Vessel

The Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, welcomed to St. John?s the Celtic Explorer, the first fisheries science and oceanographic research vessel ever to be funded by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Celtic Explorer has been chartered by the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University (MI) from the Marine Institute of Ireland.

In celebrating the arrival of the Celtic Explorer, Premier Dunderdale was joined by the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Dr. Gary Kachanoski, President of Memorial University; Glenn Blackwood, Executive Director of the Fisheries and Marine Institute; Jackie Sheppard, Chair of the Research & Development Corporation?s (RDC) board of directors; and, Dr. Peter Heffernan, Executive Director of the Marine Institute of Ireland.

The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture is investing $10.25 million in the new Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER) and the charter of the Celtic Explorer. The RDC is investing another $1.5 million. The new centre and charter vessel are key components of the suite of fisheries science research programs that were announced on July 2 of last year.

?This is yet another milestone for Newfoundland and Labrador as we chart our own course in fisheries science research for the first time in the history of the province,? said Premier Dunderdale. ?With the arrival of the Celtic Explorer, we will be taking our internationally-known reputation for oceanographic and marine research to a whole new level. Our investment will also provide many new immediate opportunities for young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in conducting fisheries science research, as we work towards a more vibrant fishing industry for the future.?

The vessel will conduct cod winter acoustic surveys during the month of February under the guidance of Dr. George Rose through the new Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research at MI. The Celtic Explorer may conduct research on other species in the future.

?The Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research and the Celtic Explorer will provide our province with a unique opportunity to have a fishing industry that is based on better science,? said Minister Jackman. ?The centre will use this new charter vessel to contribute to the body of knowledge that will build our expertise in managing the fishing industry. Our government also looks forward to incorporating our research into the federal stock assessment process.?

?The establishment of the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research and the chartering of the Celtic Explorer mark an important step forward to better understand the fisheries resources off our shores which continue to sustain a fundamental industry within the provincial economy,? said Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer of RDC. ?Of particular interest for RDC is the use of leading edge technologies and the international partnerships that will help to grow the province?s research capabilities.?

The Celtic Explorer is a 65-metre state-of-the-art fisheries and oceanographic research vessel, capable of conducting offshore fisheries surveys and other oceanographic work in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. It will be the most sophisticated purpose-built vessel ever used for fisheries science research in the province.

?Chartering the Celtic Explorer is a tremendous opportunity for Memorial to take a more active role in the stewardship of the fishing industry, through the creation of knowledge that is timely and relevant to the unique needs of the North Atlantic fishery,? said Dr. Kachanoski. ?Moreover, it is an opportunity for researchers from Memorial, MI and the Irish Marine Institute to collaborate on research of interest to Canada and Ireland.?

?For almost 50 years, the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University has been rooted in building the knowledge, capacity and opportunities of those who work in the fishing industry,? said Mr. Blackwood. ?The arrival of the Celtic Explorer and the research it will conduct under Dr. George Rose and our new Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research will be the first of its many contributions to increasing our capacity in fisheries science and research. The researchers, technical personnel and students that we will attract to the centre will bring a strong focus to our fisheries research and increase our understanding of the commercial species and the ecosystem.?

A ministerial declaration for the charter of the vessel was signed in Dublin in October of last year. At that time, the charter agreement was signed by both institutions and the Provincial Government for this winter, with an option for extension into the following two years. It also provides for further cooperation between the Fisheries and Marine Institute and the Irish Marine Institute.

?Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador both believe that science holds the key to the sustainable development of our natural resources,? said Dr. Heffernan. ?We are delighted that our flagship research vessel is retracing the historical voyage of past generations of Irish fishermen to the waters of this province. We look forward to partnering with Newfoundland and Labrador in undertaking joint scientific endeavours that will benefit our people on both sides of the great Atlantic Ocean that unites us.?

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and MI, through CFER, are conducting an assessment of a purpose-built offshore fisheries and oceanographic research vessel similar to the Celtic Explorer, for long-term application after the charter arrangements of the next three years.

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