Nanaimo’s Pacific Biological Station earns heritage status

NANAIMO – Pacific Biological Station has been recognized by the Government of Canada for its contributions to fishery research.

The Pacific Biological Station has been recognized by the Government of Canada for its 105 years of contributions to fishery and aquatic research.

The station on Hammond Bay Road was designated as a site of national historic significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and Parks Canada Tuesday. One of the first fishery-based research facilities in Canada, the station has been crucial to the study of commercial fish population and knowledge of salmon stock distribution.

Mark Saunders, Pacific Biological Station division manager for salmon and freshwater ecosystems, said he was excited about the recognition.

“I started my career here about 32 years ago and just have an appreciation for the sense of history, having been with a couple of generations of scientists that have been in the biological station and the contributions that they make both domestically with our fisheries here and internationally,” Saunders said. “The work that’s been done out of this station is pretty phenomenal.”

Among notable research at the station was that of the late William E. Ricker, which examined the effects of fishing on fish production and led to a better understanding of fish population.

His Ricker Curve math model is still used by fisheries in Canada and around the world.

The road leading into the station, Ricker’s Curve, is named after him.

“Bill Ricker was a scientist here and really one of the first scientists that began to put some quantitative modelling around the ideas about spawning and recruitment and what it was that maintains salmon populations,” said Susan Farlinger, Pacific region director general from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“Really only after he initiated that, that a lot of the modern work in fish population dynamics come about, so he really was a pioneer,” she said. “He’s certainly a scientist to be proud of and there are many scientists after him that have followed in that tradition here at the Pacific Biological Station.”

Research currently taking place at the station includes stock assessment, aquaculture and ocean science. Since its establishment in 1908, the station has expanded to include 22 structures on site.

Along with the Pacific Biological Station, the St. Andrews Biological Station in New Brunswick, which was also established in 1908, was also commemorated Tuesday.