Out at sea: Aboard the RV Celtic Explorer

By Susan Fudge
Manager, Fisheries Conservation
February 8, 2011
On the 18th anniversary of the cod moratorium in Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial government established the Centre for Fisheries and Ecosystem Research, in collaboration with Memorial University, that will conduct fisheries research for the province. A game changer indeed!  World renowned fisheries scientist and WWF research advisor Dr. George Rose is the director of the Centre and has invited me to tag along with the crew for the first few days.

(c) Susan Fudge/WWF-Canada
The RV Celtic Explorer is a top of the line Irish acoustic research vessel, and its first trip in Northwest Atlantic waters started today.  I have been on many ships in my days, and the RV Celtic Explorer sits at the top. The research that will be conducted onboard will enhance the understanding of the status of commercial fish stocks and the marine environment they live in. Such information will better enable the province’s fishing industry to work towards sustainability of fish stocks, which people now understand is an important component to seafood marketing. We at WWF pride ourselves in doing science based conservation work, so this is an opportunity to be a part of something big.
My day started at 0600 hours with my radio alarm warning of the coming storm. At 0900 hours I boarded the vessel and went though safety drills, tours, met the crew, and helped set up of all the scientific equipment. Then, a little break, and I sat back and watched with pride (being a Newfoundland and Labradorean) as media, politicians and high profile seafood industry folk, toured through the vessel (they had much the same excited expression on their faces as I did!).

At 1500 hours we disembarked for a media conference with the Premier, another room full of high profile industry players and fishery managers… I’m telling you, you could feel the excitement!
At 1600 hours we sailed through the picturesque narrows of St. John’s harbor with great fanfare.  I sit here now at 2000 hours being “gently” rocked while typing away.