For more than 16 years, CRI scientists have conducted ground-breaking international research into wild Atlantic salmon and have mentored a generation of new aquatic scientists eager to make every river a healthy river.
We continue this strong tradition with the establishment of a research chair at the University of New Brunswick focused on Atlantic salmon, part of $1.3 million in funding from the Collaboration for Atlantic Salmon Tomorrow (CAST) to conduct innovative research projects aimed at curbing the alarming decline of salmon stocks. CRI Research Associate Tommi Linnansaari was introduced as the holder of the UNB CAST Atlantic Salmon Research Chair during an announcement at UNB on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
I would like to congratulate Dr. Linnansaari on his Chair. Dr. Linnansaari, an integral part of the CRI, has garnered a well-deserved international reputation as a world-class Atlantic salmon scientist and a respected peer of all who have the great opportunity to work with him.
His introduction as the UNB CAST Atlantic Salmon Research Chair also highlights the success of CRI’s overarching mission to make every river a healthy river and to train the next generation of skilled aquatic scientists. CRI started with just four researchers who shared this vision and were determined to make it a reality.
Among those four founders was Dr. Rick Cunjak. Dr. Cunjak mentored Dr. Linnansaari, then a young PhD student, who became one of many leaders in CRI’s second generation of Science Directors and Associates. These CRI scientists are now grooming the third generation of young scientists trained by CRI at UNB, including PhD candidate Brittany Dixon, MSc candidate Bernhard Wegsheider, and PhD candidate Kyle Wellbrand, also a Post-Doctoral Researcher of Dr. Linnansaari.
The investment by CAST – a partnership of scientists, environmental groups and industry participants focused on saving wild Atlantic salmon – earmarks $500,000 for the creation of the research chair while the remainder is focused on four research projects, coordinated by Dr. Linnansaari.
The challenges facing Atlantic salmon are big, and require coordinated, cooperative efforts to address them. CAST, and most importantly the talented people involved in it, including many from our CRI community, are the key components of winning the fight for salmon in NB.
The research projects, undertaken by scientists at UNB and CRI, will allow for a greater understanding of how Atlantic salmon behave, what is threatening the stocks and what might be done to revive them. The work will focus on one of the great Atlantic salmon rivers of the world, New Brunswick’s Miramichi River, though the techniques developed and knowledge generated will be applicable across the species’ range.
The forces mustering behind CAST are unique, drawing on First Nations, academia, industry, and local stakeholders. I said earlier that we are fighting for the future of Atlantic salmon. These are the people and partners, under the leadership of our Dr. Linnansaari, whom I am pleased and excited to have on Atlantic salmon’s side.