Baie-Comeau, Quebec – Canada is an ocean nation. With the longest coastline in the world, from the Pacific, to the Arctic, to the Atlantic, we are blessed with an incredible diversity of marine ecosystems. Our shores are vital to the lives, well-being and culture of all Canadians, including almost 7 million coastal inhabitants. They are home to valuable fisheries and countless marine species. Our waters support the recreation, tourism and shipping activities that drive our economy.
Conserving Canada’s coastal environments while promoting a healthy economy means making well-informed decisions based on sound science. It calls for environmental baseline data that allows us to monitor long-term changes in coastal ecosystems, including the impacts of human activities such as shipping, fishing, agriculture and shoreline developments.
To support these objectives, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, on behalf of the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced today in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, that the Government of Canada is investing almost $1.6 million in six marine environmental data collection projects in the St. Lawrence Estuary through the Coastal Environmental Baseline Program, part of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan. This investment is supporting approximately 12 jobs at five partner organizations collecting environmental baseline data.
Funded as part of the $50.8 million Coastal Environmental Baseline Program, under the Government of Canada’s historic $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, these projects involve close collaboration between Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists, universities and environmental organizations. With this collaborative work, we are gathering the wide-ranging baseline data needed to characterize coastal environments and detect long-term changes in the study areas, including gaining a better understanding of climate change impacts.
The new investment in these six projects from the Government of Canada will paint a clearer picture of the status of the coastal ecosystems and environmental conditions in the St. Lawrence. The data collected from these initiatives regarding the impacts of activities like shipping traffic and the threat of climate change are essential to directing our efforts to protect coastal species and habitats into the future and to making our waters and coasts safer, cleaner and healthier.
The Government of Canada understands that we cannot pass off protecting our coasts and our environment to the next generation. We are taking real action now to ensure that our children and grandchildren will not only have access to the world-renowned nature across our country, but will also benefit from sustainable jobs and economic growth on our waters and coasts.
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“Collaboration with maritime communities, Indigenous peoples, universities and other partners with close ties to Canada’s oceans is at the heart of the Coastal Environmental Baseline Program. Together, we are making great strides to better understand and protect these bountiful yet vulnerable areas. We are fulfilling our responsibility to present and future Canadians to steward our irreplaceable marine resources with care.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“This investment is excellent news not only for the many people who make a living from fishing, shipping, coastal tourism and other activities in the St. Lawrence but for all Quebecers and Canadians. Baseline data gathered in collaboration with coastal communities will strengthen science-based decision-making, better enabling us to protect and restore these sensitive marine ecosystems.
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Saint-Maurice-Champlain
The five project partners announced today include: Explos-Nature; Université du Québec à Rimouski; Université du Québec à Chicoutimi; Comité Zone d’Intervention Prioritaire de la Rive Nord de l’Estuaire; and Centre interdisciplinaire de développement en cartographie des océans.
The objective of the six projects is to characterize the conditions in the St. Lawrence based on a variety research initiatives including: a study of the physical and biological components of coastal wetlands, a light detection and ranging analysis of the seabed; an investigation of the abundance and distribution of molluscs and other benthic macrofauna; an assessment of coastal fish species through underwater video recordings; and an investigation of intertidal macroalgae (seaweed) through remote sensing technology.
The $50.8 million Coastal Environmental Baseline Program, part of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, is helping to collect wide-ranging scientific data in six marine ecosystems with high vessel traffic and coastline development: the Port of Vancouver, BC; the Port of Prince Rupert, BC; the St. Lawrence Estuary, QC; the Port of Saint John, NB; Placentia Bay, NL; and Iqaluit, NU.
Coastal baseline data is critically important to our understanding of marine ecosystems and essential to our ability to protect marine species and habitats into the future. The data will also be used to inform decisions that could impact on sensitive marine environments.
In addition to gathering valuable coastal environmental baseline data, these projects will provide information to help coastal communities measure the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems, specifically by describing the impacts of coastal erosion on sensitive aquatic habitats.
This new investment complements funding announced earlier this spring for other marine environmental data collection projects in the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick and the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, British Columbia
The Coastal Environmental Baseline Program is one of many actions the Government of Canada is taking to safeguard our coasts and waterways under the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan. This national plan will establish a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while ensuring our coastlines are healthier, safer and better protected for future generations.