Inaugural Lecture: Professor Warwick Sauer

21 September 2011

Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Deans, Heads of Department, colleagues, students, members of the Sauer family, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to this Inaugural Lecture, which at Rhodes is associated with the University conferring the status of full professor on an academic.

It is also a public celebration of the intellectual and scholarly achievements of an academic by peers, students, family and friends and the wider public.

This evening’s inaugural lecture is by Professor Warwick Sauer of the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (DIFS). It is entitled “Squid, spear guns and politicians”.

The forefathers on both sides of Warwick’s family have had a role to play in the South African history. On his mother’s side, his great great grandfather was Sir Andrews Geddes Bain, a renowned road engineer who built eight major mountain roads and passes in South Africa and known also as the founder of geological research in South Africa. There is also a connection to Rhodes University through Hans Sauer, who was a personal physician to, and partner of, Cecil John Rhodes.

Warwick matriculated from Muir High School in 1981 and undertook his BSc at the University of Port Elizabeth, going on to achieve his Honours, MSc and PhD in quick succession.

In 1989 he obtained his SAUU skippers ticket and his commercial diving ticket. Twenty something years on he has extensive experience in operating boats and with scientific diving, including deep diving below the level of 30m. He also has his commercial diving supervisors’ ticket, Advanced Technical Nitrox Diving Ticket and his Technical Diving Nitrox Blenders Ticket.

Warwick spent a short period in the commercial fishing industry before joining the Port Elizabeth Museum in 1988 as a contract researcher working on the chokka squid. He also worked in Cape Town for the Sea Fisheries Research Institute between 1993 and 1996 as a Principal Oceanographer. There he was responsible for the management of the line and shark fisheries.

He came to Rhodes as Senior Lecturer at the DIFS in 1997, becoming an Associate Professor in 2001, followed by a full Professorship in 2009 and Head of the Department the following year.

Warwick’s key areas of expertise are fish ecology and fisheries development and management. His personal research outputs include 84 papers published in rated peer refereed journals and five published conference proceedings. He has made specialist contributions to eight books, two of which are in press.

Warwick was the recipient of the SASMIA travel awards in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2009. He received the IUCN/Ford Foundation grant in 2002 and the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Medal in the same year.

Maintaining a consistent involvement in academic research, commercial fisheries, government-based research, and management and contract research, he has worked in Africa and beyond. In 2000, with colleague Peter Britz, he founded a campus based Company, Envirofish Africa Pty Ltd.

During the period, he began a six-year term as Chairman of the Eastern Cape Association for Marine Resources, and with colleagues from the region compiled an audit of the research needs within the Eastern Cape. He spent a year developing a Sector Plan for fishing and mariculture for the Northern Cape.

Warwick has sailed around Madagascar on a dive survey of the coral reefs and their fishing communities, spent considerable time in Angola where DIFS has a permanent research base, and spent time on Tristan da Cunha in charge of the environmental monitoring of the salvage operation of an oil rig stranded on the island.  

Between 1988 and 2004 he was a team member and project leader for several projects in South Africa in collaboration with the DEAT, SAN-Parks, and CSIR. On the continent he worked with the Global Environment Facility, the WWF, and the European Union, including Namibia and Madagascar.

From 2004 and 2006 he was the Programme Coordinator for six UN Projects focusing on harmonizing fisheries development in Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

In 2005 and 2006 he was a Fisheries Sector Specialist for Ernst and Young and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism for a project to develop a cost recovery policy for the South African Fisheries.

He has been involved in the capacity of convenor, member and chairman on several technical committees over the years including: the Directorate Environmental Affairs Task Group on National/Regional control of SA Fisheries; bilateral meetings between the SA Government and the Governments of Japan and China to discuss fishing in South African waters; the Scientific Committee for the Cephalopod International Advisory Council Symposium; a Task Group to formulate a training programme for BENEFIT (a join programme between SA, Namibia and Angola); a Task Group commissioned by the Chief Director: Sea Fisheries to provide recommendations on the management of subsistence fishing in South Africa; a National Task Team (Dept of Sea Fisheries) to prioritise condrichthyan research necessary for the effective management of the resource; the Foundation for Research and Development, Sea and Coast Programme Advisory Committee; Advisor to the Deputy Director General, DEAT on the allocation of marine resources; the development of a FAO fisheries management plan for shark fisheries in SA waters; a FAO report on Bycatch management in SA; the Benguela Environment Fisheries Interaction and Training Programme (BENEFIT) Training Working Group; and the DEAT Directorate Marine and Coastal Management, Working Groups on Chondrichthyans, squid and Linefish.

More recently he has been appointed as the regional Training and Capacity Building Coordinator for a UN project involving nine countries in the Western Indian Ocean where he is tasked with coordinating training activities and compiling a regional training plan for marine research. 

He serves on the DAFF Directorate Working Group on Squid, the IUCN Specialist Shark Group; he is executive secretary of the Cephalopod International Advisory Council, which coordinates advice for cephalopod research and management throughout the world.

Last year he spent time on the island of Rodriguez, determining the state of the octopus resource, the major source of income for subsistence fishers on the island.

During his current Sabbatical he is undertaking an audit of the research capacity in Mauritius, as part of a larger undertaking by the Indian Ocean Commission in the region.

Applying this expertise to the teaching environment, he has successfully supervised 17 MSc theses and six PhD theses.  He has served as both external examiner and guest lecturer at a number of Universities, and collaborates extensively internationally, most notably with the University of London, and Tokyo University.

He is presently undertaking a global project studying squid ecology and behavior, doing research in the north of Japan and off the Californian Coast, and is part of an international team setting up a global network for research on global hotspots of climate change.  

In the past eight years he has delivered keynote addresses at conferences in Namibia and Thailand and presented conference papers at 53 international conferences.

It is my great pleasure to invite Professor Warwick Sauer to address us.

Last Modified: Wed, 19 Nov 2014 12:25:15 SAST