Government of Canada invests in research to study the effects of contaminants on aquatic ecosystems in Quebec

News release

March 29, 2021                      

Ottawa, Ontario - Microplastics have been found on almost every beach, on the surface of every ocean, in deepest parts of the sea, and in some of the most remote parts of the planet. The Government of Canada is further investing in research to better inform the protection of our oceans, lakes, rivers and waterways and the many species that call them home from contaminants like microplastics.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced $448,201 in funding for research on microplastics. This funding supports two research projects addressing the detection and biological effects of these contaminants on aquatic species.

McGill University received $217,733 over three years to study how small micro- and nanoplastics travel into and within the bodies of aquatic organisms, how to detect them and how this may impact their health. The Université du Québec à Rimouski received $230,468 over four years to examine the biological effects of microplastics on sea scallops.

The Government of Canada will continue to invest in science and research to understand what our lakes, rivers, and waterways need to sustain the countless lifeforms that call them home. When we better understand a problem, we are better equipped to address it. By studying the impact of contaminants on the species we harvest, like scallops, today’s investment will help collect the data and information needed to keep Canada’s waterways healthy for generations to come. 


“Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. Only 9% is recycled resulting in an increased risk to our environment, including our waters. It is critical that we study and understand all threats, including microplastics, to our aquatic ecosystems to ensure that these bodies of water can continue to sustain the countless resources and livelihoods they generate. Today’s investments will strengthen Canada’s blue economy and ensure it continues to be grounded in science and sustainability.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Research is critical to increase our knowledge of the impact that microplastics are having on our marine ecosystems and aquatic species. Through partnership with McGill University and L'Université du Québec à Rimouski we are gathering data needed to make science based decisions in the future to protect our marine environments and the species that call them home.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“I would like to thank the Government of Canada for this important investment in McGill’s research on the effects of micro- and nano-plastic contaminants. The outcomes of this project will aid in informing science-based resource management decisions for the preservation and continued productivity of Canada’s aquatic resources.”

Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation, McGill University

“Research is crucial to generating cutting-edge knowledge leading to informed decisions to ensure the preservation of the ecosystems of the river, estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. In this sense, it promotes a better understanding of the species living there and, incidentally, sustainable exploitation for generations. Professor Soubaneh's research work will shed new light on the impact of microplastics on sea scallops, an important species for communities in the regions served by UQAR.”

François Deschênes, rector of the University of Québec at Rimouski

Quick facts

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Science Sector funds research on the biological effects of contaminants. 

  • Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are microscopic and up to 5 millimetres in size. 

  • Minister Jordan launched the engagement on Canada’s Blue Economy Strategy on February 8, 2021. The World Bank defines the blue economy as the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health. Canada’s ocean sectors contribute approximately $31.7 billion annually in gross domestic product and account for close to 300,000 jobs.

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Jane Deeks
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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