Windsor researchers track Greenland halibut, sharks
Great Lakes Institute and Ministry Fisheries and Oceans working with Inuit to establish fisheries
A research writer for the University of Windsor has returned from a week of tagging and tracking fish in Canada’s Arctic.
Steve Fields returned home early Tuesday morning after seven days on board the MV Nuliajuk, a 64-foot research vessel, located north of the Arctic Circle on the east coast of Baffin Island.
Fields was documenting the work of Nigel Hussey, a post-doctoral fellow in the Great Lakes Institute of Environmental Research at the University of Windsor. Hussey and other researchers were working with the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans in an effort to eventually establish commercial fisheries for Inuit.
According to the Ministry, knowledge of Greenland halibut spawning and migration over the course of their life cycle is limited.
The researchers were tagging and tracking Greenland halibut, also known as turbot.
Fish were caught, brought into a mobile lab on board, where they had a tag surgically implanted. The fish were then released so their migratory trips could be tracked.
In 2001 industry groups involved in Nunavut's offshore turbot fishery came together to form the Baffin Fisheries Coalition. The primary purpose and mandate of the group is to build capacity in the offshore turbot fishery to maximize benefits for Nunavummiut.
Researchers were also tagging Greenland sharks, which feed on the turbot.
"Often fisherman catch sharks in the long line. It becomes a bit of nuisance," Fields said.
The sharks were tagged with a transmitter that will first track their patterns for three months. After that, they will disconnect from the shark and bob to the surface, where they will transmit the collected data to satellites, which relay the information home.
"We don’t really know a whole lot about them," Fields said of the sharks.
The tagging was done by a trio of men hanging themselves over the side of a small zodiac boat and working in the water.
Fields said the tagging was like "conducting surgery in 0 C water."