Bienvenue Laura

11 June, 2018

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We’re delighted to announce that Laura Tremblay-Boyer has been appointed as our new fisheries scientist and will start in September. She has spent the last 3 years as a stock assessment scientist with SPC in Nouméa, New Caledonia.

SPC (Pacific Community) provides science and research to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, the international organisation responsible for managing fisheries for tuna and associated species in the Pacific region.

Laura says SPC is an interesting and challenging place to work because of the very fast turnaround required by WCPFC.

“From when we are asked the science questions for the year, we have a bit more than 6 months to produce reports on all of those so the issues can move forward at the next scientific committee meeting. It gets very busy but we’re a really good team and everyone is passionate about doing an excellent job. I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”

While at SPC, Laura has worked on tuna, sharks and billfish (sailfish, marlin, swordfish). In 2017 she led the stock assessment for yellowfin tuna, one of the most valuable species of tuna in the Pacific – and one of the biggest catches. She is currently leading the South Pacific albacore assessment.

Laura was also one of the scientists on a report and subsequent working group that recommended manta and mobula rays be added to WCPFC’s key shark species list.

“None of the ray species were on that list. We know relatively little about these fascinating animals, but we do know they are very sensitive to fishing and tracking their status is key to their conservation.”

Laura was attracted to fisheries science because she wanted to work in the marine environment and saw fisheries as having a significant impact there.

“I was really into marine biology and conservation but also really into math. At first I didn’t think I could do both so I focussed on conservation. As I got into postgrad I found there was a lot of need for people who were into conservation and ecology, but also math and statistics.”

Originally from Montreal, Laura completed her MSc in fisheries sciences at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver with Dr Daniel Pauly and is in the final stages of writing up her PhD, also from UBC.

“In my PhD I studied range contraction, which is the idea that if you fish down a stock, its spatial extent will not stay the same, it will contract. It’s really relevant in places like the Pacific where the area is so large but there are strict rules around who can fish where. Also, many Pacific countries are dependent on fisheries for food security and for their economies, so range shifts can have very real effects for those local populations.”

Alongside her love of programming and statistics, Laura brings a strong emphasis on clear communication.

“Statistics are such a different world, but it’s up to me to make sure my audience understands what I’m talking about. I work really hard to be a good communicator of technical topics. It’s a skill you don’t get taught at university, but when you see a good communicator in action, the difference they make is obvious.”

Laura is excited about moving to New Zealand and has timed her arrival to fit with the annual SPC report cycle. She’s looking forward to being part of Dragonfly’s work with smaller scale fisheries and the opportunity for direct contact with fishers.

“There are lot of things in New Zealand that remind me of what I miss most about Canada. It’s a beautiful place with friendly people and a good sense of humour – that’s a big part of who I am and how I interact with others. I’m also really excited about Brussels sprouts – they’re my favourite and the ones we get here are terrible!”

Read the WCPFC technical reports: Stock assessment of yellowfin tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, 2017

Review of available information on non-key shark species including mobulids and fisheries interactions, 2017.