RV (Research Vessel) Nuliajuk – is a state of the art, multi-purpose fisheries research vessel that supports science-based conservation and the sustainable development of Nunavut fisheries. The vessels mandate is to encourage community participation in fisheries, provide valuable training and employment opportunities for Nunavummiut, and gather significant data, discoveries and observations of the arctic undersea life. There is no other platform of its kind operating in Nunavut, and requests for her use by communities, academic, government and non-government agencies is extremely high. Nuliajuk provides information on marine habitat for char, turbot, clams, whelks and shrimp, geo-hazards, depths, tides, currents, safe anchorages and safe passages for inshore vessels.
What is the benefit to Nunavut?
There is still much to learn and gain from the use of the RV Nuliajuk. She has been in operation since 2011, researching the arctic coastal waters of the Qikiqtaaluk region, with future plans to conduct research in the Kivalliq region in 2016. The vessel and research activities conducted on board provide training and employment opportunities in fisheries and research vessel operations. Nuliajuk’s Inuit crew is trained by the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium. [S1] Her purpose is to research aquatic species and their ecosystems to support sustainable fisheries management by understanding biological and environmental factors that influence their health and productivity. Communities adjacent to research activities benefit from the data collected and are able to provide input as well, bringing science and traditional knowledge together. The data gathered through test fishing, bottom mapping, as well as navigating the coast has made new information available about Nunavut’s coast and her marine life. Nuliajuk has discovered potential commercial fish stocks, contributed research to by-catch reduction, and identified a deeper, wider shipping route than the current course in Frobisher Bay. At the forefront is the assurance that we will have increased our capacity to undertake and guide our own research, for sustainable economic development and food security.
Who are the researchers?
The research carried out through Nuliajuk is funded and undertaken collaboratively with communities as well as researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), Parks Canada, the University of Windsor, Memorial University, the University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, ArcticNet, and the Ocean Tracking Network. Our staff supports this work, and is engaged in fisheries research in partnership with these groups. Collaboration is essential to make certain Nunavummiut know what’s out there, make informed decisions and benefit from science, research and fisheries.
Who are her crew and how are they trained?
The RV Nuliajuk is crewed by RCG Marine Consulting from Newfoundland and Labrador, who won their bid on our public tender in 2011. Her full-time crew includes the Captain Cecil Bannister, a First Mate and two deck hands. All crew meet or exceed the experience and training qualifications required by Transport Canada to work onboard the vessel. Nuliajuk is also a platform for training Inuit to work on research vessels, training and employing up to six Inuit each year, all graduates of the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium. She employees two Inuuk at any given time, and students from Nunavut Arctic College’s Environmental Technology Program are invited on board while she berths in Iqaluit. Men and women are both trained and hired as crew. Two Inuk trainees will be on-site at the shipyard by May 20th, 2015, to undergo two weeks of fisheries and environmental monitoring training so they may be prepared for the active research in Nunavut this summer. On many occasions there are cross training opportunities for crew and researchers to collectively manage and perform tasks together. We are very happy to continue our partnership here, and look forward to this upcoming 2015 season, and beyond.
What are the activities for the 2015 season?
After our last season concluded in November 2014, the Nuliajuk has been docked at Glovertown Shipyards for the winter. While she winterizes, Nuliajuk has been given significant upgrades to enhance her performance at sea, to maintain compliance with Transport Canada, and to proficiently support the many types of research conducted on board. The proposed 2015 research activities will build on the research conducted in 2014 and include:
- Bottom mapping and exploratory fishing for whelk in Frobisher Bay;
- Continuation of turbot tagging and research initiatives in Cumberland Sound, to support moving of the Cumberland Sound Turbot Management Zone fishing boundary further offshore and to minimize by-catch;
- Research on the movements of turbot along the Baffin coast between inshore, mid-shore and offshore areas;
- Test fishing for turbot in Scott Inlet and Sam Ford Trough (near Clyde River);
- Ground-truthing and more mapping of potential ground-fish and shellfish areas along the Baffin coast particularly the assessment of commercial clam stock size in the Qikiqtarjuaq area; and
- Mapping of safe harbors and inner passages between Clyde River, Qikiqtarjuaq, Pangnirtung and Iqaluit.