Jeffrey Hutchings takes top honour in marine science

- November 28, 2017

Huntsman award recipient Jeffrey Hutchings. (Provided photos)
Huntsman award recipient Jeffrey Hutchings. (Provided photos)

He’s a popular professor who has high expectations for his students with an engaging and entertaining lecture style that informs, enlightens and motivates. And he’s a scientist whose work on the evolution of life-histories, population dynamics and conservation biology of fishes has generated a reputation that is world-renowned.  

Now, Dal Professor Jeffrey Hutchings has been honored with a Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation and Biodiversity and a Killam Scholar appointment. And this week, he adds a new honour to his CV: the AG Huntsman Award for Excellence in the Marine Sciences.

In the Huntsman’s 38-year history, Dr. Hutchings is the second person from Dalhousie University to earn the award, and only the seventh Canadian.

One of the reasons Dr. Hutchings received the award is because he not only identifies the steps required to achieve more sustainable ocean management, he has been able to influence positive change to occur. That’s because the plain-speaking and vocal advocate for the wise use of science in marine conversation isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers — or in marine terms, use little bait to catch a large fish.

He has applied his influence to create more progressive, and effective government policy and industry practices, drawing on excellent science to support his recommendations.  

“Jeffrey doesn’t just identify what needs to be done to enact positive change, he has made it his personal mission to set a higher standard for conservation,” says William Li of the A.G. Huntsman Foundation which manages the nomination process. “His actions, especially as they relate to the fishing industry, are advancing practices that benefit both our economy and the environment.”

Communications and engage

Honoured by the AG Huntsman Award, Dr. Hutchings is using the platform to further engage the public on fisheries management.

“It’s essential that we continue to discuss overfishing — an issue that has had devastating impacts on Canada’s economy,” he says.

“Not all species have the same intrinsic ability to bounce back; the slower a fish’s pace of life, the slower and more uncertain the recovery. And the longer a population remains depleted, the greater the chance the ecosystem will change in ways that are unfavourable for recovery.”

Hutchings says that compared to other developed countries, Canada’s recovery initiatives have been remarkably slow to develop.

“We need to explore the reasons why recovery doesn’t always occur and we need to link that back to public policy and to establish recovery targets. And we need to have political will to not only set those targets but achieve them.”

The award ceremony and Huntsman Distinguished Lecture will take place at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography on Tuesday, November 28 at 1:30 pm with His Honour, the Honourable Arthur J. LeBlanc, ONS, QC, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia in attendance. The ceremony is open to Dal students and faculty.

On Wednesday, Nov. 29, Hutchings will give a lecture on the importance of establishing science-developed recovery targets for Canada’s depleted fish stocks. Sponsored by the Ocean Frontier Institute and the Nova Scotia Institute of Science, the free event is being held in the Marion McCain building, 6135 University Avenue beginning at 7 pm. A reception with light refreshments will follow.


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