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St. Andrews biological station gets 8 new science positions

posted May 24, 2016, 3:39 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience

Former Conservative government gutted marine and science library, resulting in public demonstrations

By Rachel Cave, CBC News Posted: May 24, 2016 8:33 AM AT Last Updated: May 24, 2016 8:38 AM AT

Shawn Robinson and Terralynn Lander watch over the sea urchins and sea cucumbers at the St. Andrews Biological Station. Eight new jobs will be coming to the biological station.

Shawn Robinson and Terralynn Lander watch over the sea urchins and sea cucumbers at the St. Andrews Biological Station. Eight new jobs will be coming to the biological station. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has confirmed the Maritimes will be getting 25 new science positions as part of the hiring spree announced earlier this month by federal Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo.

Eight of those jobs will be going to the St. Andrews biological station, following years of cuts that demoralized the local community and forced ordinary citizens to join groups to fight the reductions.

Nancy Aitken, a member of Support Ocean Science, said people in the area were upset by the federal government's cuts.

"We had a demonstration of over 600 people, which is huge for a town of 1,600," Aitken said.

Aitken is referring to a rally in the summer of 2012, after Ottawa announced it was going to gut the marine science library by the following year and move its holdings to Dartmouth.

Aitken said she's now optimistic the federal government is willing to listen and reinvest.

Library holdings moved

Sea cucumber

The St. Andrews Biological Station had been hit by years of cuts. A local group called Support Ocean Science was created to fight the reductions. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Aitken's group recently presented a paper to New Brunswick Southwest MP Karen Ludwig that acknowledged that "It will be very difficult to fully undo the damage of the library closure, since the holdings have been moved."

But it does call on Ottawa to re-establish a small library with critical holdings and library staff to support research in St. Andrews.

Aitken said one improvement that's come with the change in federal governments is that scientists no longer feel muzzled as they did before.

"People at the station feel free to discuss what is happening there ... so it's all very positive. But we're certainly aware that nothing is going to be dramatically different in the short term," she said.

135 new hires

On May 11, Tootoo announced what he called the biggest science recruitment drive in recent history.

"And these folks will be working in our labs, in the field, and on the water aboard our vessels," he told an audience of students at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

He said the government would spend nearly $200 million in aquatic science.

And in total, he said DFO would create 135 new science jobs across the country to facilitate research on fish stocks and environmental stressors, such as climate change and pollution.

8 St. Andrews positions

Hunter Tootoo

Federal Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will hire 135 scientists, including 25 in the Maritimes at eight in St. Andrews. (CBC)

The St. Andrews biological station is getting four research scientists, three biologists and a technician.

Suzanne Taylor, the communications manager, said some of the new positions would be filled over the summer months through existing public servant hiring pools, student bridging, and other internal processes available to DFO employees.

The biological station has 83 staffers, including 68 full-time positions and another 15 personnel who are students, term employees or emeritus.

Late Friday, the department had four St. Andrews postings that were listed as open to the public on the federal government's job site.

There were openings for two aquatic biologists, a physical scientist and a research scientist, with salary scales ranging from $57,713 to $133,410.

The closing date for applications is June 13, 2016.