Investing in research on oil spill response measures through the Multi-Partner Research Initiative and protecting Canada’s coastal areas through the Coastal Environmental Baseline Program


Oceans Protection Plan

Canada’s coasts are home to productive ecosystems that support the livelihoods of Indigenous and coastal communities. Under Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is bringing together the best researchers from across the country and around the world to help protect our coasts and waterways from the impacts of potential oil spills while supporting the collection of baseline data to identify changes in coastal environments.

The Government of Canada is investing over $5.5 million in six research initiatives at Memorial University of Newfoundland to help improve protocols and decision-making that will minimize the environmental impacts of oil spills. In addition, more than $1.8 million is being invested in 11 marine environmental data collection initiatives led by seven partner organizations in Placentia Bay.

Multi-Partner Research Initiative

The $45.5 million Multi-Partner Research Initiative aims to ensure we have access to the best scientific information and methods available to respond to oil spills in Canadian waters by supporting collaborative research among oil spill experts both in Canada and worldwide. These efforts will improve our knowledge of how oil spills behave, how to contain them, clean them up and minimize their environmental impacts.

The Memorial University of Newfoundland projects will focus on a range of techniques and technologies to aid in oil spill response in Canada. For example, the projects will:

  • investigate the effectiveness of chemical dispersants to treat oil spilled at sea;
  • develop improved oil adsorption technologies (adhesion of oil molecules to a surface) to respond to spills;
  • examine the use of autonomous underwater vehicles outfitted with sensors to gather data on oil spilled in hard-to-reach waters; and
  • identify ways to improve oily waste management and the separation of oil from water.

See the Multi-Partner Research Initiative webpage for detailed project summaries.

Coastal Environmental Baseline Program

The $50.8 million Coastal Environmental Baseline Program involves close partnership between Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists, Indigenous and coastal communities, nongovernmental organizations, academia and other research partners. Participating groups are gathering wide-ranging scientific data that will help characterize Canada’s coastal environment.

The seven organizations receiving funding in Newfoundland and Labrador include: the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Association, University of Manitoba, Humber Arm Environmental Association, Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program, Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador, Fish Food and Allied Workers Union, and Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Their projects will focus on gathering environmental baseline data on:

  • coastal ecosystems and marine habitats;
  • concentrations of spawning capelin and other fish species;
  • presence, distribution and abundance of eelgrass;
  • changes in lobster populations and ecology;
  • distribution of brown trout, Atlantic salmon and other fish that travel between seawater and freshwater;
  • presence of marine debris; and
  • other important factors to track the health of the coastal ecosystem in Placentia Bay.

These data will better enable researchers to track baseline ecosystem status, detect changes in the coastal environment, gain insights to protect sensitive aquatic species and habitats, understand the impacts of marine shipping and help safeguard Canadian coastal waters.

See the Coastal Environmental Baseline Program webpage for detailed project summaries.

September 2019

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