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Marine centre to lose research grant

May 11 2012

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre is looking for ways to cut costs after being told it will lose one-third of its research funding in 2014.

The $500,000 annual grant came from the federal Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council.

Although the council is honouring current commitments, it will not take any more applications, said Bamfield director Brad Anholt.

That means two vacant positions in the staff of 38 will not be filled, the season may be shortened and fees could increase, Anholt said.

That will not only affect marine research at the centre, it will also have a major effect on the small village of Bamfield, Anholt said.

"We are a major employer. There are only 152 people in town," he said.

The cuts mean two families will not be coming to live in Bamfield.

And if the centre remain closed until mid-March instead of opening in February each year, it will affect all businesses in town, Anholt said.

"This year we had 27,000 overnights. That's big when you think of all the university students and researchers here for months at a time," he said.

Those people buy goods in town, get their boats fixed and go to social gatherings, Anholt said.

"As we pull back, it will mean less happening in town."

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre was set up in 1972 by the five western research universities - the universities of Alberta, Calgary, British Columbia, Simon Fraser and Victoria - and conducts research in fields such as marine biochemistry and ecosystems.

In addition to hosting university students and researchers, it runs public outreach programs and courses for high school students.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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