Canadian Aquatic Resources Section of the American Fisheries Society

Member Profiles


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Shona Derlukewich – Vice President of the Mid-Canada Chapter of AFS
Natalie Sopinka – CARS member
Karen Murchie – Chair of the Larkin Award
Jack Imhof – CARS president 2013-2015

 


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SHONA DERLUKEWICH

Vice President of the Mid Canada Chapter of the American Fisheries Society

Occupation: University of Alberta- Undergraduate Student, Conservation Biology;  School of Fish- Technical Instructor

Location: Edmonton, Alberta

Expertise: Fisheries technologist with 10 years experience in fisheries research and aquatic environmental assessments of water resources, mining, oil and gas exploration, and linear development projects. I provided services including fish and fish habitat inventories, water quality assessments, construction monitoring recommendations, and analysis and reporting of field investigations. Further responsibilities have included project management, fisheries discipline lead for environmental assessments, technical writing in fisheries, and coordinator/instructor for fish identification workshops.

Credentials and Affiliations:  Northern Alberta Institute of Technology – Diploma, Renewable Resources ; American Fisheries Society- VP MCC; CARS member; Alberta Society of Professional Biologists – Fish Identification Instructor; Trout Unlimited Canada – Volunteer & Fish Identification Instructor; City of Edmonton – Master Naturalist Volunteer

INTERVIEW WITH SHONA DERLUKEWICH

Q. What is SchooIMG_1738l of Fish, and what led you to this work?

SD: I created my small business School of Fish in May 2015 to educate various biologists in the art of fish identification. After ten years of experience as a fisheries technologist, my School of Fish allows me to teach an introductory course: Fish of Alberta – Field Identification. These courses are held in Edmonton and Calgary for members of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, and are consistently sold out to clients including consultants, students, and practicing biologists. I also teach for non-profit and community groups. My course motto: “Together we can provide mentorship, education and awareness to reignite the passions in future fisheries biologists”.

Q. What inspired you to start School of Fish? 

SD: Over the years of working as a fisheries technologist, I found it difficult to identify small-bodied fish species in a field setting. After working with many amazing fisheries biologists, I decided to create a fish identification book specifically related to field identification. This project started in 2009 and recently I made printed copies of my field identification key and commenced teaching a variety of people.

Q. What is involved with your work as an instructor?

SD: I have a presentation set up to teach professionals, students, and anyone interested in fisheries in a classroom setting with a variety of preserved fish samplesP1010713 to identify. I also set up sessions in a field setting involving the use of minnow traps to focus on identification of live specimens in a selected location

Q. What is your favourite aspect of this job?

SD: My goal is to help fisheries people to excel in field skills through fish identification and eventually developing them into confident and successful professionals. The excitement that comes with learning new characteristics and identifying fish species correctly is gratifying. I can teach people to remember specific characteristics that will never leave them in their career.

Q. What are the main goals of this project?

SD: My excitement for fish ecology began while volunteering for the annual Trout Unlimited Canada fish rescue program. The program occurs in southern Alberta, and provides opportunities to a variety of individuals and school groups to dive into the fascinating world of fish. These volunteer events aim to educate the general public on on conservation values and fisheries management. Every year my passion grows exponentially as I meet amazing fellow fish fanatics and pass along the knowledge I have acquired. Many children, including girls, at the fish rescue are nervous in the first few hours, but I create a new passion which changes their lives. In particular, a six year old girl said to me “Thank-you, I want to be a fish girl just like you when I grow up”. This experience of having a positive impact on an impressionable person showed me how I could make a difference in this world, and at that moment I knew this is what I wanted to do. This is why I spread my passion as it was once introduced to me. My Fish of Alberta- Field Identification workshop will train juniors and refresh intermediate or senior fisheries biologists in fish identification in Alberta.

Q: What accomplishments by yourself and your team/organization would you like to highlight?

MN Fish ID2SD: School of Fish has sold over 80 copies of the fish ID book to government, consultants, not for profit organizations, and students. Many thanks to all the personnel involved in the creation of this book!

I have also been a key volunteer in many organizations including Trout Unlimited, ASPB, and AFS.

See Shona’s Linkedin profile for more details https://www.linkedin.com/in/shona-derlukewich-bb308b24? or contact her at derlukewich@hotmail.com to schedule a workshop or purchase a copy of her fish ID book!

Q: What are your future goals?

SD: The recession allows me to reinvest in my future by pursuing my everlasting goal of a Bachelor of Science Degree. This will allow me to achieve a professional designation which enhances my career opportunities. It’s more than personal satisfaction; it demonstrates to clients, employers, and agencies that you are competent and knowledgeable in your designated field.

Development of my School of Fish business is very exciting as I love to pass along my skills to enhance others’ professional development. I truly believe if we all work together, fisheries can be the spotlight career to show why we need more environmental protection. No matter which species is present, we need to understand the biology of that species to determine the health of that specific water body. In the future, I would like to have regulators consider this course as a competency credit when considering biologist expertise. My ultimate goal is to travel across Alberta to each fisheries management unit teaching and learning from local biologists about fish identification. Each course I present tends to generate new characteristics and discussions to enhance everyone’s fish identification skills. We all win with this collaboration.

Q: How long have you been a CARS member?

SD: Member-at-large since 2013, and a member of the board since 2014.

Q: What role does CARS play in your work, or how does your work influence your involvement with CARS?

SD: Mentoring is one of the key characteristics I look for in a professional society. Mentors provide life experiences you will never learn from a book. These unique situations are quite inspirational and educational as ideas are exchanged among mentors and protégés. Mentors support your career development; they are people you look up to and imagine yourself in their role in 5 years.

The fisheries profession comprises a small group of people that can be called upon to help in many aspects of work. This can be sampling techniques, analysis, or personal experience. CARS networking opportunities provide a unique place to interact with other passionate fisheries biologists.

Q. What do you see as the most important challenge faced by Canadian (or worldwide) fisheries today?

SD: Recent changes in fisheries regulations do not allow adequate protection of our water bodies. This is a step backwards for protection of one of our precious resources. If the fish are not protected, the water is not protected, and it is a continuous domino effect of degraded environmental protection.  Destruction of the Fisheries Act allows industry to self-rule and disregard areas important to small-bodied fish. We need to work to change perceptions about small bodied fish and raise awareness that changes in the ecosystem impacts every scale. For example, changes in Cyprinid populations can impact recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries. The future is in our hands and we must respect the planet.

Q. What is the biggest accomplishment in fisheries science over the last few decades?

SD: Technology provides new and exciting ways to assess population status and overall health of fishes. Water quality advancements, satellite tracking systems, and modelling populations through statistical analysis are some exciting practices that are growing and changing. New research opportunities are created with new technological advancements in equipment. Mitochondrial DNA analysis can determine the accuracy of external morphological features to provide correct identification of species known to hybridize. If we know more about hybridization, we can access the abundance of a species that may have been previously misidentified.


 

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Natalie at Yellow Island Aquaculture Ltd. holding chinook salmon eggs as part of her current post-doctoral research

NATALIE SOPINKA

CARS Member

Occupation: Postdoctoral Researcher, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER)

Location: Windsor, Ontario

Expertise: stress, behavioural ecology, science communication

Credentials and Affiliations: PhD, University of British Columbia; MSc, McMaster University

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH NATALIE SOPINKA

Q: What is your research background? How did it lead to your current work?

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Natalie stuck in mud in the intertidal areas on Vancouver Island during her MSc field research

NS: My research story begins as an undergraduate at McMaster University. Curious about what exactly professors did when they weren’t teaching, I was guided to earn course credit completing research in a lab. Drawn to animal behaviour (an interest likely rooted in childhood devotion to two pet hamsters, Herbie and Herbert), I joined The Aquatic Behavioural Ecology Lab led by Sigal Balshine. I cleaned aquaria, graphed differences in liver size among cichlids, watched round goby hop, bite and yawn, and captured videos of toadfish sperm in hotels that did and did not catch fire. I migrated to the University of British Columbia for my PhD to study effects of maternal stress in Pacific salmon with Scott Hinch. I spent four years measuring egg hormones and rearing baby salmon. I left BC with a few more questions to be answered and here I am at the University of Windsor.

Q: What brought you to University of Windsor, and how long have you been conducting research there?

NS: A dynamic duo! I joined the labs of Oliver Love and Christina Semeniuk in September of this year. Oliver’s work on the predictive power of hormones and Christina’s work on the predictive power of behavioural processes meant I could wrap up my exploration of intergenerational effects of stress in fishes with the guidance of two experts and the support of two highly collaborative labs.

Q: What is the major focus of your current research, and what are the main goals of this work?

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Natalie at Chilko Lake in British Columbia, the site of her PhD research

NS: I am studying the interactive effects of maternal stressor exposure and rearing environment enrichment on offspring performance in Chinook salmon. This research is being conducted in collaboration with Yellow Island Aquaculture Ltd. (YIAL). The project aims to develop both adult handling and juvenile rearing strategies that optimize quality of production fish.

Q: What are the implications of this work?

NS: The data published from my adventures to date has been a series of additions to our understanding of how stressor exposure affects fish performance within and across generations. Although direct application of these data to fisheries management was not the motivation of the research, it’s become clear to me that an appreciation of the underlying physiological, behavioural and ecological processes can be part of the thought processes involved in fisheries management.

Q: Tell us about your blog Phish Doc. What do you think are the most important outcomes of this blog?

NS: Phish Doc is my creative outlet that I started a year and a half ago. To exercise my creativity, I compose short poems on all things aquatic. I search the chasms of the internet for unique visualizations of the subject. I strive to write in a way that is punchy but conversational, often with humour – to connect with non-specialist readers. Hopefully this style is a welcome change to scientists reading PDF after PDF! The present and potential influence of my blog on the fisheriesScreen Shot 2015-11-29 at 5.10.07 PM community is still something I am pondering how to evaluate and develop.

Check out Natalie’s Phish Doc blog here!

Q: In your work as a science communicator, what are the biggest challenges, and how do you overcome them?

NS: The biggest challenge for me as a science communicator is that it’s not actually my day job. At least, not yet. I am constantly evaluating how I organize my time to ensure that I am fulfilling my research objectives while allowing myself to pursue communications initiatives that inspire me. Maintaining inspiration is important for me. When I am inspired I want to educate, excite, and inspire others.

Q: What upcoming projects are you excited about?

NS: I am involved with SciEng Pages (formally Science Pages) which is a science communication initiative of The Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE). SciEng Pages are short reports that summarize the current knowledge base and policy landscape of current issues in science and engineering. Each issue of SciEng Pages is prepared by a Canadian research network and shared directly with Parliamentarians. I am excited to be a part of the team supporting the production of SciEng Pages and their efforts communicating science and engineering research to Canadians.

Q: What is the biggest accomplishment in fisheries science over the last few decades?

NS: My scientific career began in the last decade and I see the biggest accomplishment as a fairly recent one: Canadian scientists uniting to advocate for a government that employs transparent, evidence-based policy decisions. In the last decade, over 600 Canadian scientists collectively expressed their outrage at the “gutting” of the Fisheries Act. In the last decade, “many scientists got involved directly in politics in ways they never normally would have considered.” In addition, Canada has seen the establishment of organizations committed to changing how scientific research is respected and integrated into government decision-making (e.g., Evidence for Democracy, Science Integrity Project).

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Karen MurchieKAREN MURCHIE

Chair of the Larkin Award – since 2010 

ResearchGate profile

Occupation: Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, College of The Bahamas, Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas

Expertise: My research interests are focused around the biology and ecophysiology of marine and freshwater fishes at both the basic and applied level. In particular I’m interested in energy dynamics at various ecological levels, the spatial ecology of individuals, and stress physiology in response to human activities and environmental changes. My aim is to undertake a research and conservation approach that embraces the complexity of our environment and the human dimension to further understand fisheries.

Credentials and Affiliations: Ph.D. in Biology, Carleton University, 2010; M.Sc. in Biology, University of Waterloo, 2002; B.Sc. in Biology (Honours), University of Waterloo, 1999; American Fisheries Society; Bahamas National Trust

Hobby/Pastime: Stand-up-paddleboarding, snorkelling, photography

 

INTERVIEW WITH KAREN MURCHIE

Q: Why did you enter the field of fisheries and aquatic science?

KM: I have always loved the outdoors but in the 3rd year of my undergraduate education at University of Waterloo, I took a field course in Discovery Bay, Jamaica that changed my life. I was snorkelling and had a fairy basslet befriend me and it swam everywhere I went. From that point on I decided I was going to study fish and I haven’t looked back. Fish are amazing creatures and I love studying and enjoying their behaviour.

Q: What motivated you to pursue a career in academia?

Karen Murchie field 1KM: I love being able to share my passion for learning with my students and also still be able to actively participate in research. I have some creative freedoms in this position that I really enjoy.

Q: What brought you to The College of the Bahamas, and how long have you been working there?

KM: My PhD research focused on using bonefish (Albula vulpes) as a model species to understand how animals make a living in the dynamic flats environment. Since my research took place in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, I quickly became attached to the beauty of the environment and the citizens of the country. When a position came up at the College of The Bahamas, I applied and accepted a position in 2011.

Q: What are some of your major focuses/projects currently underway?

KM: I continue to focus on bonefish ecology as this sport fish brings in over $141 million a year to the Bahamian economy. One of my current projects aims to determine spawning locations around Grand Bahama – with the goal of understanding not only the biology of the species, but the potential threats to these critical habitats.

Q: How long have you been a CARS member?

KM: 15 years (I believe – since I’ve been a member of AFS)

Q: What role does CARS play in your work, or how does your work influence your involvement with CARS?

KM: Given that I live and work outside of Canada, being a member of CARS allows me to keep connected with the fisheries issues in the country and also the people working on them.

Karen Murchie field 2Q: What brought you to be the Chair of the Larkin Award?

KM: I have been lucky enough to win the Larkin Award along with the J Frances Allen Scholarship, and so it is a way for me to give back by serving as a chair for the Larkin and also acting a judge (in the past) for the J Frances Allen award.

 

Q: What do you see as the most important challenge faced by Canadian (or worldwide) aquatic systems and their fisheries today?

KM: I think one of the biggest challenges is to get the general public to recognize the importance of aquatic systems and their communities. We need to continue to strive to connect with citizens who are not biologists and get them to care about the environment.

 

SELECT PUBLICATIONS:

Adams, A and K.J. Murchie.  2015.  Recreational fisheries as conservation tools for mangrove habitats.  Pages 43-56 in K.J. Murchie and P.P. Daneshgar (Eds.), Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat. Mazatlán, Mexico.  American Fisheries Society, Symposium 83, Bethesda, Maryland.

Cooke, S.J., and K.J. Murchie.  2015.  Status of aboriginal, commercial and recreational inland fisheries in North America:  past, present and future.  Fisheries Management and Ecology.  22:1-13.

Murchie, K.J., S.J. Cooke, A.J. Danylchuk, and C.D. Suski.  2011.  Estimates of field activity and metabolic rates of bonefish (Albula vulpes) in coastal marine habitats using acoustic tri-axial accelerometer transmitters and intermittent-flow respirometry.  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 396:147-155.

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Jack Imhof

JACK IMHOF

CARS President (2013 – 2015)

Occupation: National Biologist and Director of Conservation Ecology, Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC). Guelph, Ontario.

 

Expertise: Aquatic Ecology; Restoration Ecology; Watershed Science and Management; Fisheries Policy

Credentials and Affiliations: B.Sc.; M.Sc., University of Waterloo. Adjunct positions at U. of Guelph, U. of Waterloo and Brock U. Member of the American Fisheries Society (AFS); past-president Ontario chapter, president of CARS – AFS. Volunteer, instructor and board Member of Seidokan Dojo, Georgetown, Ontario.

Hobby/Pastime: 4th Dan, Yoshinkan Aikido; fly fishing and fly tying; photography; exploring micro-brews.

 

INTERVIEW WITH JACK IMHOF

Q: Why did you enter the field of fisheries and aquatic science?

Jack on Madison at Wild TroutJI: I entered the field because I have always loved to fish, and wanted to know why rivers and fish behave the way they do. As a result I decided to go into biology and specifically aquatic ecology. I felt that if I could understand how these systems worked under various conditions, it would help me to better understand how fish use river and stream habitats, and how I could help repair rivers. The field of river and watershed science fascinates me given the need to link several inter-related fields of science from geology to hydrogeology, engineering, geomorphology, and hydrology.

Q: What brought you to Trout Unlimited Canada?

JI: I have worked with TUC chapters as an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) biologist as far back as 1979, and always respected the passion and commitment of their members to restoring the health of coldwater systems. When I had an opportunity to join TUC in 2003 as part of an unpaid leave-of-absence from OMNR, I jumped at it. I returned part-time to OMNR in 2007, but when I officially retired from there at the end of 2010, I came back to TUC full-time.

Q: What are some of the major focuses or projects currently underway at TUC?

JI: TUC primarily focuses on the conservation and restoration of four environmental pillars: water quality, water quantity, habitat, and coldwater fish communities. We work within a watershed context, informing and engaging local communities to better steward their watershed through programs and projects that seek to restore healthy coldwater systems.

After development of our National Conservation Agenda in 2006, TUC created a major program (the Watershed Flagship Program) to highlight how we apply our major pillars within selected watersheds in BC, Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. I personally have been very active with two of these: Bronte Creek in Ontario, and a set of linked watersheds flowing into Qualicum Bay, BC. We also work actively to protect and restore threatened coldwater fish such as coastal and westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout, Athabaska rainbow trout, and brook trout.

Q: What accomplishments by yourself and your team at TUC would you like to highlight?

Jack Photo 2JI: Previous accomplishments include co-authoring the Trout Stream Rehabilitation Manual in 1982 for OMNR, helping establish the Watershed Management Program in Ontario, and developing the Natural Channel Systems Initiative.

I am very proud of our accomplishments at TUC in restoring coastal cutthroat trout habitat on Vancouver Island, as well as working to protect westslope cutthroat trout in Alberta through suppression of exotic brook trout. In Ontario, we have completed a major project on Bronte Creek that has cooled the river, restored riffle:pool habitat, and begun the process of restoring native brook trout to this portion of the watershed. I am also very pleased with work I have done assisting our chapter in Markdale to restore a previously damaged coldwater stream flowing into the Rocky Saugeen River in Ontario. I am extremely proud of the development of a new 6-workshop training series geared towards training young professionals and volunteers in watershed and stream rehabilitation.

Q: What are some future goals for yourself and your team at TUC?

JI: I hope to expand the watershed and stream rehabilitation training program of TUC over the next few years. In addition, I hope to help launch TUC’s new 5-year strategic plan that focuses on further science-based restoration work, an increase in support for our volunteer chapters, and expanding our education and policy work.

Q: How long have you been a member of CARS, and how does CARS influence your professional life?

I have been a member of the AFS for over 25 years, and a member of CARS for over 6 years. One of the major goals of CARS is to provide a scientific and professional perspective and voice for sound fisheries and aquatic management in Canada. This complements my role as National Biologist and Director of Conservation Ecology for TUC. As a result of my job, I am often considering where TUC needs to provide input on fisheries and resource issues across Canada. My involvement in CARS helps me maintain a professional and objective perspective when dealing with these issues.

Q: What do you see as the most important challenge faced by Canadian aquatic systems and their fisheries today?

Over and above major global issues such as climate change and a growing human population, we are in an interesting time in Canada where both provincial and the federal governments have swung strongly to an economic development push that at times appears to run rough-shod over sound scientific and sustainable development principles. The challenge that we face in conserving these renewable resources is convincing the public and our elected officials that these resources are critical to the long-term well-being of Canada, and should not be sacrificed for short-term private gain.

Q: What is the most important accomplishment in fisheries and aquatic science over the last few decades?

From my perspective, it is the realization that we need to deal with our fisheries and aquatic environments as an ecosystem at several scales from watershed down to site.

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