Combining artificial intelligence and local know-how to serve coastal communities: Minister Lebouthillier announces nearly one million dollars to protect and better detect the presence of marine mammals

News release

May 29, 2024

Montreal, Quebec - Nature is a key part of Canada’s national identity. The health of marine ecosystems and their biodiversity  supports our culture, well-being, and our economy from coast to coast to coast. Protecting marine ecosystems and the aquatic species that call them home is essential to supporting productive and sustainable fisheries, while also helping to provide economic benefits to coastal communities.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, announced $855,000 under the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (CNFASAR) for Montréal-based organisation, Whale Seeker.

In collaboration with Edgewise Environmental, a Newfoundland-based marine environmental consulting firm, Whale Seeker will deploy its award-winning Möbius technology, which leverages drone and artificial intelligence technology to simplify and facilitate marine mammal observation in real time. Improving detection of aquatic species at risk is essential to their recovery and Canada’s conservation efforts.

Through targeted investments and projects that leverage the latest science and technology, the Government of Canada is helping to build a culture of conservation, and one that empowers Canadian organizations to join in the collaborative efforts to conserve nature. Since 2018, the CNFASAR fund has funded over 140 projects for over $110 million across Canada that support the conservation of biodiversity, as well as the recovery of aquatic species at risk.


“Canada will always strive to find the right balance between protecting marine mammals and continuing fishing activities that are crucial to the economies of our coastal communities. Today’s announcement is timely: by combining artificial intelligence and local know-how, we will ultimately be able to detect the presence of marine mammals in near real time. Ultimately, I am hopeful that this will provide the additional degree of predictability that our fishermen need to successfully complete their fishing seasons, and thus ensure the prosperity of our coastal communities. Hats off to Whale Seeker for their innovation!” 

The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“At Whale Seeker, we are deeply honoured to contribute to the advancement of marine conservation through our innovative technology. Our cutting-edge solutions, developed with a commitment to ethical AI and collaboration, are designed to meet the urgent need for high-quality and accessible tools. By leveraging our expertise and working together, we can provide real-time insights for data-driven decisions for all ocean stakeholders.”

Emily Charry Tissier, CEO Whale Seeker

Quick facts

  • The nine Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (CNFASAR) priority areas identified are located in:

    • Fraser and Columbia Watersheds (BC)
    • Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes (AB)
    • Southern Prairies (AB, SK, MB)
    • Arctic (NU, NWT, YT, Arctic Ocean)
    • Lower Great Lakes Watershed (ON)
    • St. Lawrence Lowlands (QC)
    • Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Rivers (NB, NS, PEI)
    • Bay of Fundy and Southern Uplands Watersheds (NS, NB)
    • Southern Newfoundland (NL)
  • Among the CNFASAR's confirmed projects, Whale Seeker has received $855,000 in funding.

  • The project, which will launch in Southern Newfoundland, aims to improve near-real time detection and monitoring of marine mammals from drones through a collaboration between Whale Seeker and Edgewise Environmental.

  • The initiative will help develop a more effective method of observing marine mammals and strengthen the protection of aquatic species at risk.

  • In partnership with Indigenous communities, diverse organizations, provinces and territories, industry and academia, the CNFASAR focuses on nine priority freshwater places and two priority marine threats. It also aims to support the recovery and protection of aquatic species at risk by enabling multi-species, place-based and threat-based approaches to recovery. 

Associated links


Jérémy Collard
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 
Quebec Region

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