Government of Canada supports leading-edge ocean science at University of Northern British Columbia

News release

August 30, 2019

Prince George, British Columbia – Canada has the world’s longest coastline and is surrounded by three oceans and the health of our oceans matters to all of us. The Government of Canada is dedicated to protecting our oceans and waterways and to keeping them clean, secure and productive for the benefit of all Canadians, now and into the future. We understand the importance of protecting the marine ecosystems that are home to an abundance of ocean life, support more than 350,000 jobs and sustain hundreds of coastal and Indigenous communities. We also recognize that scientific research is fundamental to evidence-based decision-making when planning and carrying out marine conservation efforts.

Under Canada’s historic $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, we are making major investments in science to help protect our coasts and waterways from the impacts of potential oil spills, and to support the collection of data in order to identify changes in coastal environments.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the Government of Canada is investing $1.9 million in scientific research, led by the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), to strengthen evidence-based decision-making that will help minimize the environmental impacts of oil spills. The investment will support 11 scientific trainee positions at UNBC.

Oil spill recovery techniques and technologies play a vital role in emergency response operations, but they also generate large amounts of oily waste. This UNBC-led project aims to improve decantation (the mechanical removal of oil from water) and oily waste management strategies for enhanced marine oil spill response. Project researchers are focusing on identifying technological barriers to separating oil from water, in addition to seeking better ways to manage oily waste. The results will help decision-makers improve decantation and oily waste management in Canada.

This four-year project is part of the $45.5 million Multi-Partner Research Initiative, which aims to ensure our capability to provide the best scientific advice and methods to respond to oil spills in Canadian waters by supporting collaborative research among oil spill experts in Canada and worldwide. Their efforts will improve our knowledge of how oil spills behave, how to contain them and clean them up, and how to reduce their environmental impacts.


“Our government is committed to keeping our oceans healthy, clean and safe for future generations. Through the Multi-Partner Research Initiative, our government is fostering scientific knowledge to help protect our waters and coasts from oil spills for generations to come. Our new investment in science and research at the University of Northern British Columbia will not only add to our scientific understanding of our oceans, but will also support 11 new scientific trainee positions.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • UNBC’s partners in this project include: Memorial University of Newfoundland; Dalhousie University; University of British Columbia – Okanagan; McGill University; National Research Council Canada; Huntsman Marine Science Centre; and University of California, Berkeley.

  • The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made by the Government of Canada to ensure our coasts are healthier, safer and better protected.

  • The $45.5 million Multi-Partner Research Initiative, announced in December 2017, is improving collaboration with oil response experts around the world, advancing oil spill research in Canada, and will help minimize the environmental impacts of oil spills.

Associated links


Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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