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Canada is investing in science to protect our waters from oil spills

  (December 18, 2017)

DARTMOUTH, NS, Dec.18, 2017 /CNW/ -The Government of Canada is committed to keeping our marine and coastal areas clean and safe for the benefit of current and future generations. That is why we are taking concrete action, under the Oceans Protection Plan, to protect our marine and coastal areas from potential oil spills.

Today, the Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board and Member of Parliament for Kings-Hants announced on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, more than $80 million in new science funding for new partnerships, improved knowledge and new technologies that will help mitigate and prevent marine incidents such as oil spills.

As part of this funding, Minister Brison announced the creation of a new $45.5 million research program to leverage collaboration among the best researchers across the country and around the world. The Multi-Partner Research Initiative will include a $10 million-a-year research fund to bring scientists together to improve our collective understanding of how oil spills behave, how best to clean and contain them, and how to best minimize their environmental impacts.

The funding also includes $16.8 million to support oil spill research so that we can better understand how oil behaves and degrades in different conditions, including cold water. As part of this investment, Canada's Centre of Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research in Halifax, Nova Scotia, will increase its research capacity with more scientists and specialized equipment. Funding will also go to external researchers across the country to study how various oil contaminants affect fish and other aquatic organisms.

And finally, $17.7 million will go towards enhancing ocean models of winds, waves and currents, so that emergency responders can accurately track spills and predict their path. Enhanced ocean modelling will also support safe marine navigation and help prevent spills from happening.

These investments in ocean modelling, oil spill behavior, biological effects, containment and cleaning techniques will ensure that Canada has both the capability and capacity to provide the best scientific advice and tools to prevent, and respond to, oil spills.


"Science will form the foundation of our world-leading marine safety system. This new investment in research and new technologies will allow us to better prevent and respond to potential marine incidents and will help us protect Canada's marine ecosystems from coast to coast to coast."

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

"Our government is committed to protecting our marine and coastal areas so that they are safeguarded for future generations. These new initiatives will ensure that Canada has the capacity to provide the best scientific advice and tools to prevent and respond to oil spills in our waters."

The Honorable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of Canada

?"Our government recognizes the importance of environmental stewardship and getting our resources to market sustainably. By supporting research and technology to enhance marine incident prevention and response, today's announcement will help ensure we have the best tools possible to protect our oceans for future generations."

The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources Canada

Quick Facts

  • These new science investments are funded through the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, which is creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines and clean water for generations to come.
  • Under the $16.8 million for oil spill research, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will receive $10.8 million and Natural Resources Canada will receive $6 million.
  • DFO's National Contaminants Advisory Group (NCAG) will administer the projects on oil and gas contaminants, which will help inform the Department's decision-making on how to protect and use our marine and freshwater environments.
  • Advanced ocean modelling work will be conducted in six priority ports across the country: Kitimat, BC; Port-Metro Vancouver, BC; Fraser River Port, BC; Port of Canso, NS; Port of Saint John, NB, and St. Lawrence River from Quebec City to Montreal.

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National Contaminants Advisory Group Selected Research Projects

The National Contaminants Advisory Group works with external researchers from universities and other research organizations to better understand the biological effects of contaminants on our aquatic species.

Below is a list of recipients who received funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada's National Contaminants Advisory Group to study oil and gas-related contaminants starting in 2017-2018. These projects fall under a $16.8 M investment under the Oceans Protection Plan to understand the behaviour of oil in water.


Name of research project

Years of

contribution from

Simon Fraser University
(Dr. Kennedy)

The environmental effects of diluted
bitumen on marine phytoplankton,
macroalgae and intertidal vascular
plants (3-years)



University of Saskatchewan
(Dr. Jardine)

Evaluating effects of the Husky
Energy pipeline spill on fishes in the
North Saskatchewan River



University of Victoria
(Dr. Helbing)

Enabling rapid evaluation of
biological effects of oil spills on
juvenile Pacific salmon in coastal



Institut national
de la recherche scientifique -
Centre Eau Terre
(Dr. Couture)

Examination of the toxicity of
diluted bitumen on freshwater fish



Institut national de la
recherche scientifique -
Centre Eau Terre
(Dr. Langlois)

Responses of wild fish to a
controlled spill of diluted bitumen in
enclosures deployed in a boreal lake
at the International Institute for
Sustainable Development-
Experimental Lake Area (IISD-
ELA), Northwestern Ontario



University of Guelph
(Dr. Gillis)

Effects and biomarkers of diluted
bitumen exposure relevant to
seawater transition in Atlantic
salmon (Salmo salar)



Dalhousie University
(Dr. Niu)

Modeling the fate/transport of
refined oil products and assessment
of their biological effects

2017 2018


Total $1,405,000

Associated Links
Multi-Partner Research Initiative
Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research
National Contaminant Advisory Group (NCAG)
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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maritimes Region

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