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UNB and Parks Canada announce research chair in aquatic restoration

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Nov 5, 2020

Category: UNB Saint John , myUNB

Kurt Samways

The Government of Canada is investing in research expertise and the future of Atlantic salmon with the establishment of a Parks Canada Research Chair dedicated to aquatic restoration at the University of New Brunswick.

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and Wayne Long, Member of Parliament for Saint John-Rothesay, announced the creation of the first-ever Parks Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Restoration during a virtual event on Nov. 5. A historic milestone for Parks Canada and UNB, Dr. Kurt Samways has been selected to hold this position, funded by a $500,000 contribution from the Atlantic salmon recovery project.

“As New Brunswick’s sponsored research leader, our experts contribute their knowledge and creativity to a wealth of challenges facing our world each and every day,” said Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle, president and vice-chancellor of UNB. “We’re proud to host Parks Canada’s first research chair, strengthening our capacity to deliver ground-breaking marine, coastal and freshwater science research and learning opportunities across our institution and particularly on our Saint John campus. Our students, our communities, our national parks and our future will be the beneficiaries of this partnership.”

Housed at UNB in Saint John, the research chair will build on the university’s strong focus and significant expertise in marine, coastal and freshwater science, as well as help undergraduate and graduate students get hands-on experience in conservation biology and species at risk recovery.

Dr. Samways, a research associate in the department of biological sciences, is also part of the Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI). CRI is a research network of scientists and institutions across Canada and internationally, hosted at UNB, dedicated to making every river a healthy river.

“Since moving from the Canadian Prairies to begin my research at UNB, I quickly learned how fundamental wild Atlantic salmon are to the heritage and health of this region,” said Dr. Samways. “I am honoured to be accepting the position of Parks Canada’s first research chair. I am proud to work alongside Parks Canada and University of New Brunswick students and researchers to actively monitor ecosystems, expand our knowledge of biodiversity and inevitably protect our at-risk Atlantic salmon.”

The announcement also included an additional $431,000 in funding toward Parks Canada’s five-year regional Atlantic salmon recovery project, bringing the total investment to $4.1 million. Announced in 2019, the project spans five national parks in Atlantic Canada: Fundy, Cape Breton Highlands, Gros Morne, Terra Nova and Kouchibouguac. The research chair will work with project teams in each national park, taking a regional approach to assess the way ecosystems function before and after salmon recovery action.

“National parks in Canada are vital to protect our marine environment,” said Mr. Wilkinson. “The Government of Canada’s investment in ecosystem health and Atlantic salmon recovery, and the pivotal role Dr. Samways plays as the research chair, illustrates our commitment to science-based decision-making in natural resource management. This innovative collaboration between Parks Canada and the University of New Brunswick demonstrates action to help conserve our valuable natural resources and contribute to the recovery of species at risk, all while providing hands-on educational opportunities to train the next generation of leaders in conservation biology.”

Media contact: Jeremy Elder-Jubelin

Photo credit: Nigel Fearon Photography/Parks Canada