MI & MUN researchers explore state of ocean resources at Reunion 2012
Friday, August 10, 2012

The event focused on the role birds, fish stocks and seabed mapping play in providing clues to the state of our ocean resources. Three prominent speakers from MI and MUN lead the event: Dr. George Rose, director, Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER), MI; Randy Gillespie, director, Centre for Applied Ocean Technology (CTec), MI; and Dr. Bill Montevecchi, university research professor, Psychology, Memorial, MUN.  Kerry Hann, managing editor at The Telegram, moderated the event.

"This was an excellent opportunity to gather alumni, staff, and members of the community to expand our collective knowledge of ocean resources," said Glenn Blackwood, vice-president, Memorial University, (Marine Institute). "Each speaker provided a unique perspective and well rounded insight into our oceans and marine resources."

Dr. Rose began the session with his presentation: What's Up with the Fishery. He explained CFER's work in collaboration with researchers and institutions within Canada and worldwide to better understand fish stocks and the potential of Newfoundland and Labrador's fisheries. Dr. Rose reflected on his research trip to the Flemish Cap this Spring where he and CFER's team of scientists discovered an abundance of "mother cod" (cod 90cm in length).

Cod are not only increasing in number, but also in size. Mr. Gillespie provided a presentation on ocean technology and how CTec uses modern approaches to conduct ocean mapping and monitoring. The centre is responding to user needs at all points in the ocean technology value chain - from high resolution ocean mapping using advanced multibeam sonar and vessels of opportunity; to sophisticated, next generation ocean observing systems.

This supports their ultimate objective of providing all mariners with a complete idea of what's around them to aid in decision making at the highest level. "The future of our oceans depends on our ability to understand and adapt to a changing ocean environment," explained Gillespie. "CTec works with industry and others to enhance the safety, efficiency, sustainability and profitability of maritime pursuits through the development and application of ocean technology."

Dr. Montevecchi brought an interesting perspective to the session through his research on the significance of marine birds in detecting environmental change and in developing a greater understanding and protection of marine biodiversity and ocean ecosystems.  He explained the changes over the past two decades and how tracking has shown us that one fourth of Newfoundland and Labrador seabirds migrate to the Gulf of Mexico.

The diversity of these presentations generated excellent debate and discussion and provided an overall understanding of the current and future state of our ocean resources. Members of the audience included alumni, past leaders of MI and MUN, along with leaders in fishery management.

As global population and commerce continue to grow, the demand to know our oceans is stronger than ever. Memorial and MI are conducting applied research efforts to respond to the ever increasing demands for enhanced safety and efficiency of marine operations, sustainable utilization of ocean resources and profitability of ocean enterprise.

Together, they are working to increase access to ocean data and the ability to translate data into information, information into knowledge and knowledge into action.