December 09, 2008

Peter Cronin - Associate of the CRI receives award

Peter Cronin of Douglas, N.B., Fisheries Manager at the Department of Natural Resources and ardent conservationist, is the 2008 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation, presented annually by the New Brunswick Salmon Council (NBSC). Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick and Honourary Patron of the NBSC Herménégilde Chiasson announced the recipient and presented the award during a reception at Old Government House in Fredericton on Friday, Nov. 28. He said, "It is an honour and a delight to recognize the life-long work of Peter Cronin — someone so dedicated to protecting and better managing our environment, and to helping others to do the same. I admire his patience, courage and generosity."

Cronin responded to those in attendance, "Governments cannot and should not manage the natural resources of the province in isolation of its citizens. We must work with federal and provincial departments, First Nation communities, non-governmental organizations, individuals and the private sector to adopt a common philosophy and approach to the conservation of our fish, their habitats and their use. I would like to personally thank and congratulate all the volunteers in New Brunswick that are working towards the sustainability of the Atlantic salmon resource." Cronin suggested that people from across the province must "join in the work of rebuilding our stocks — fish by fish, river by river, and watershed by watershed. The approach we use to make these improvements must be reasonable, sensible and responsible."

Tom Benjamin, President of the NBSC, said, "I'm thrilled to be part of the presentation of this award to an individual who has made such major contributions to the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon. Peter has played a significant role in salmon conservation, ranging from his involvement in community groups to international organizations such as the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization in which he serves as a provincial representative. He is a true steward of wild Atlantic salmon and their environment."

During his career, Cronin has been a strong advocate of community-based watershed management and has been extremely active and instrumental in the formation of many of these groups in New Brunswick. He sits as a member of several such organizations in the province (including the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee and the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council) operating under Memorandums of Understanding with various sectors and levels of governments. He serves as the New Brunswick Representative on the Central Advisory Committee of the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation. Bill Taylor, President and CEO of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, added that "Peter has done much for the conservation, restoration and wise management of wild Atlantic salmon in our province and is a most deserving recipient of this prestigious award."

The Lieutenant Governor's Award is hand-carved from a piece of New Brunswick black cherry by local artist Bill Page, and has been on permanent display at Old Government House since it was first awarded in 2000. The New Brunswick Salmon Council (NBSC) is the Regional Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation and is headquartered in Fredericton, New Brunswick. NBSC is dedicated to the wise management and conservation of the wild Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick.

November 23, 2008

Basking shark sampled by NB Museum and CRI grad student

The death of this basking shark is indeed very sad but the samples collected will be available to research institutions for scientific study.

Donald McAlpine, Curator of Zoology at the New Brunswick Museum was notified that a large basking shark was found dead and entangled in the lines of lobster traps near Alma. Lobster fishers towed the animal to the harbour in Alma and advised Dr. McAlpine that it was easily accessible for necropsy. Mary Sollows (MSc student with Dr. Munkittrick), Katelyn Vendenbroeck and Joey Pratt collected samples from an adult, male basking shark on behalf of the museum.

We waited until 3:00pm for the tide to retreat and spent approximately 2 hours collecting the samples. The experience was amazing. It was dark by the time we finished but luckily the rain held off until were done. We were careful not to open the guts because of the potential for fouling the area. Skin samples, two gill rakers, a clasper and vertebra were taken to the New Brunswick Museum for preparation and accession into the Natural Science research collection. The jaws will remain in Alma for display for a couple of years.

- Submission by Mary Sollows

November 05, 2008

Moving mud threatens to bury port

Published Monday November 3rd, 2008 New Brunswick Telegraph Journal

Dredging Saint John Port Authority turns to Canadian Rivers Institute to understand movement of sediment

Scientists at the Canadian Rivers Institute believe they can steer the Saint John Port Authority clear of a financial hole.

Jordan Musetta-Lambert, a masters student in environmental management, downloads information from a nephelometer along the bank of the St. John River in Maugerville. A nephelometer measures the amount of sediment in the water.

Digging mud from the harbour threatens to financially mire the port authority, accounting for about 40 per cent of the cost of operating New Brunswick's major ocean port this year.

The cost of annual maintenance dredging depends on how much material the St. John River brings down, how much the Bay of Fundy tides bring the other way, and what prices dredging contractors bid.

Last year the port authority spent $1.7 million to remove about 120,000 cubic metres of material from shipping channels, berths and turning basins. This year the cost threatens to reach beyond $4 million to remove almost 300,000 cubic metres. Dredging cost an average of $2.7 million per year from 2005 to 2007.

A standard dump truck carries about 15 cubic metres. The dredging contractor takes this material by scow to the ocean dumping place designated by Environment Canada. The port authority monitors this pile.

The Saint John Port Authority's revenues from operations came to about $12 million last year. Dredging could account for 40 per cent of the cost of operating the port this year, compared to 10 per cent in 1996, Capt. Alwyn Soppit, president of the port authority, said in a recent interview.

With money on this scale invested in a mud pile, the port authority has to stretch what it has left for its many other expenses.

So the port authority went to the Canadian Rivers Institute, based at the University of New Brunswick's Fredericton and Saint John campuses, for help.

"It is a group that tries to bridge academia and groups that are interested in water research," said Simon Courtenay, one of 15 "fellows" of the Canadian Rivers Institute. Courtenay, a research scientist for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, also holds a position as a research professor in UNB's Biology department in Fredericton.

The St. John River provides approximately 60 per cent of the fresh water draining into the Gulf of Maine, according to the port authority. It carries a huge volume of silt, especially in spring, from the headwaters and through the Reversing Falls gorge where it meets the Bay of Fundy tides rising and falling twice daily.

On this research project, Courtenay and Kelly R. Munkittrick, the Institute's associate director based in Saint John, will study the effects of dredging on fish and other organisms in the harbour.

"This is a big project," Courtenay said, involving five scientists along with eight graduate students and four undergraduate research assistants. André Saint-Hilaire will lead the project.

The six components include a "hydrodynamic model" of the river, the harbour and the bay, and how sediment moves. Another component deals with circulation within the estuary. The third component is analyzing seasonal loads of silt. The fourth is the distribution of sediment and how it moves around the harbour, also its physical and chemical composition. Fifth is the effect of dredging on fish. Sixth is modelling erosion and deposition.

"They came to the Rivers Institute," Courtenay said, referring to the Saint John Port authority. "We're very excited about this project because it is a collaboration where the private sector came to us."

The Rivers Institute will learn more about the harbour, where the river and the bay meet. The project will cost about $800,000, with the Institute and the port authority each providing half.

Work started this year by installing instruments called nephelometers, "fancy instruments for measuring the amount of suspended solids in the water," at Maugerville and Oak Point.

This data might allow the port to correlate "hydrological events" such as a heavy spring freshet with the volume of silt coming down the river.

The data might also link sediment to human activity.

This knowledge should help harbour pilots bring ships to their berths more safely. It should allow port managers to predict movement of sediment, budget for it better, and place it where it will remain stable. It might provide information on placing wharves, breakwaters and channels to minimize dredging, and protect environmentally sensitive zones.

Developing a successful model of its home river, the St. John, would put the Institute in good shape to undertake similar projects elsewhere. "In a way, this is the acid test because this is a difficult river to work," Courtenay said.

June 23, 2008

Dr. Kerry MacQuarrie's Tier 2 Canada Research Chair Renewed

Kerry MacQuarrie's Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Groundwater-Surface Water Interaction has been renewed for a second five-year term, effective July 1. The university will receive $100,000 for each of the five years from the Canada Research Chairs program.

Evaluating and modelling groundwater-surface water interaction are priority areas for Canadian groundwater research. Dr. MacQuarrie’s research focuses on understanding the key processes occurring during groundwater-surface water exchange in rivers and streams, and the development and application of hydraulic, heat transport, and multi-species reactive transport models for addressing groundwater-surface water issues. Examples of issues to be investigated include the assessment of natural and human-induced variability on riverbank filtration water supplies, and the quantification of nutrient loading from groundwater to shallow estuaries.

His CRC profile can be viewed at

June 11, 2008

St. John River RiverFest and CRI day 2008

We had a great week with CRI Day and then the closing out RiverFest (and Canadian Rivers Day on sunday). We had an excellent turnout at CRI Day (about 75 people) and for this we need to thank Alexa Alexander and Lisa Bowron and their team of assistants for their hard work arranging the day. Rick Cunjak went on Rogers TV with the St. John River Society to answer “live” questions about the SJRiver and the CRI - he looks good on TV! Our performing kids (formerly known as the 'CRI' Babies) played 3 events in the music venues. On Saturday, Brian Savage and his team, Jeremy, Agni, Jessica, and Dea, entertained kids all day long with fishes and inverts from the SJRiver. We’ll get some picture up as soon as we can.
So, thanks to everyone for a great job representing the CRI in the community. We are already starting to plan for next year: Rick and Karen are in charge, Alexa/Lisa/Brian have the notes for volunteers. Let us know how you want to be involved.

Many thanks again,
Director, CRI

March 28, 2008

2008 CRI Director's Report

Director’s Report (January 2008)

There is no shortage of exciting things happening in the CRI these days. A glance across our web site will reveal our expansion of infrastructure with the opening of our UNB Saint John facility where we focus on aquatic ecosystem health assessment, fish reproductive physiology, and eco-toxicology, the addition of 2 new Fellows at UPEI and INRS (Mike van den Huevel and Andre St. Hilaire), training programmes and web services, and much more. Our statistics for the last few years are impressive: >$3M in research revenues annually, >60 students graduated (PhD, MSc), >40 students in graduate programmes each year, >250 peer-reviewed publications, etc.

Our research continues to expand in scope with projects across Canada dealing with agricultural (chemical use and water abstraction), hydroelectric developments, water supply issues, and biomonitoring in Arctic rivers and lakes, and international projects in Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Uruguay. Recognition of our work is growing as demonstrated by Karen Kidd’s research selected as a top scientific paper of 2007.

CRI education and training is expanding as well. We now offer courses for graduate students and professionals in river habitats, hydraulics, and restoration, electrofishing certification, and in April we’ll introduce the online training component of Environment Canada’s Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN). In fall 2008, our first cohort of undergraduates will begin in the new BSc in Environment and Natural Resources, Water Resources Management Major. Look for more courses and programmes coming in 2009.

The SINLAB continues to expand its services in stable isotope analyses. The CRI benthic macroinvertebrate taxonomy service now has 6 staff offering sorting services to researchers and the private sector. The CRI generated >$100,000 in consulting revenues in 2007.

Our next big challenge is a new research and training facility at UNB Fredericton. To address our present need and stalled growth, we are working to build a 45,000 sqft complex for 175 researchers, staff, and students.

I am very proud of our continuing contributions to water sciences and management, and we are looking to do more.

Allen Curry, Director
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