On the Waterfront – August 2023

Investigations Ongoing into OceanGate Disaster

In light of the implosion that claimed five lives aboard the Titan submarine that offered a guided tour of the wreckage of the Titanic, several official organizations are investigating the factors that contributed to the incident.

Authorities from the Transportation Safety Board in Canada and the U.S. Coast Guard, assisted by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board have launched investigations, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP has noted its investigation will be an “examination of the circumstances that led to the deaths” to understand whether a full investigation is warranted and to assess whether “criminal, federal or provincial laws may possibly have been broken.” The TSB’s investigation, on the other hand, is not to assign blame, but to “advance transportation safety.”

The implosion claimed the lives of OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, British businessman Hamish Harding, French maritime expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman.



Capelin Extending Range in Response to Warming Waters

Based on DNA samples in the waters of the Fram Strait off the west coast of Greenland, scientists have noticed a concerning amount of capelin.

The Fram Strait, which is over 400 kilometres north of the usual range of capelin, has warmed by nearly 2°C since 1900. These conditions present an opening for the opportunistic forage fish to expand their range, according to Véronique Merten, a marine ecologist from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany.

In her studies, the genetic material left behind by capelin in the area far outnumbered material from arctic species such as Greenland halibut and Arctic skate. This change in the genetic makeup of the region is due to Atlantification — the conversion of the fresh, cold and icy waters of the Arctic into warmer and saltier waters that are more common in the Atlantic.



Enviro Watch NL Calls for Stop to Drilling in Local Marine Refuge

Enviro Watch NL (EWNL), a citizen-run environmental advocacy group in Newfoundland and Labrador, is decrying the possible redrawing of boundaries for the Northeast Newfoundland Slope marine refuge to allow multinational oil giant BP to perform exploratory drilling.

The marine refuge is a 46,800 square kilometre refuge for corals and sponges that is almost the size of Nova Scotia. Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson has said that part of this refuge could be undesignated should BP make a major oil discovery, which EWNL says goes against both the provincial and federal governments’ climate action commitments.

“It makes neither environmental nor economic sense,” said Alison Dyer, executive team member of EWNL “As the rest of the world decarbonizes to reach climate targets, Canada could end up severely compromising this marine refuge while any oil infrastructure likely becomes a stranded asset in the near future.”



N.L.’s South Coast Fjords Highlighted as Possible Marine Conservation Area

A ceremony was held in Burgeo, Newfoundland and Labrador to commemorate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to assess the possibility of designating the South Coast Fjords as a marine conservation area.

This new conservation area would help to further Canada’s plans to conserve 25 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2025, and 30 per cent by 2030. The MOU was signed by representatives of the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Miawpukek First Nation, Qalipu First Nation and the Town of Burgeo.

“In Newfoundland and Labrador, the ocean is synonymous with our way of life. It is home to rich diverse marine ecosystems upon which generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians depended on,” said Bernard Davis, N.L. Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Conserving and protecting those ecosystems are vital to help address climate change, protect biodiversity and species at risk, and maintain a strong, sustainable economy. Our government is eager for this important work to begin and look forward to continued collaboration with our partners.”



Ocean Allies and Invest Nova Scotia Unveils Ocean Impact Award

Ocean Allies, an organization that strives to further diversity and inclusion in the ocean sector, has partnered with Invest Nova Scotia to present the Ocean Impact Award.

The award will be presented to a company in the ocean sector that works to foster diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the workplace. Applications and nominations will be accepted from August 1 to October 31, 2023, with a winner being announced in November and award presentations taking place in December.



Indigenous-owned McGraw Seafoods Receives $500,000 in Funding

Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canadian Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced a non-repayable $500,000-grant to Elsipogtog First Nation-owned McGraw Seafoods.

The funding is to help McGraw Seafoods achieve British Retail Consortium certification in order to expand into new markets as well as netting a higher value for its product.

“ACOA has been a key strategic partner in facilitating the growth of McGraw Seafood. Their contribution allowed us to achieve and maintain our British Retail Consortium Certification, achieving a grade of A in each annual audit so far,” said Jake Augustine, McGraw Seafood’s General Manager. “As the company’s owner, the community of Elsipogtog is proud to be able to deliver a high-quality product to international markets. The collaboration between McGraw Seafood and ACOA is a demonstration of economic reconciliation in action.”



Earth Sees Third Warmest May in 174 Years

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May 2023 was the third warmest on record, with North and South America seeing their hottest on record.

The average global May temperatures, according to NOAA, were 0.97°C warmer than the 20th-century average. Oceans temperatures also set a new record, seeing their second month in a row of record highs. May 2023 also saw the second-lowest sea ice coverage on record for the month, only being outpaced by May 2019.

2023, on average, is the fourth-warmest year on record, tracking around 1.01°C above the 1901–2000 average.



Canada Invests $3 Million in Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies in B.C.

As part of a $8.1-million investment announced in Victoria, British Columbia by Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, Canada will grant $3 million for the creation of the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST) and to support the Indigenous Prosperity Centre (IPC).

COAST seeks to bring together entrepreneurs, governments, researchers and the oceans sector industry to expand B.C.’s ocean technology centre. IPC is designed to support Indigenous-led economic development in ocean monitoring and conservation on Vancouver Island.

“Together with leveraged support from the private sector, this investment accelerates climate-conscious ocean and marine innovation along with Indigenous strengths in marine stewardship in order to realize Pacific Canada’s position as a leader in the global blue economy,” said Emilie de Rosenroll, the Group CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership and the founding CEO of COAST.



Federal Government Forms Task Force for Tidal Energy in the Bay of Fundy

Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, announced the formation of a task force to explore issues and opportunities around sustainable tidal energy projects in the Bay of Fundy.

The task force, co-chaired by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada, will be comprised of industry members, researchers and the province of Nova Scotia. The group seeks to address problems surrounding fish protection and regulation turnaround time in implementing tidal energy projects in the bay.

“Marine renewable energy has potential as a source of clean, reliable and affordable energy that can provide both environmental and economic benefits, especially for coastal communities,” said Murray. “We will work with the province and industry to find opportunities to develop tidal energy in the Bay of Fundy while protecting sensitive marine ecosystems.”



Canada Announced Community Hydrography Program With Indigenous Communities

On June 21, celebrated as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced hydrography programs in partnership with Indigenous groups to identify underwater hazards and sensitive marine areas and plan fish harvesting.

The first project, in partnership with the Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association, will work with Miawpukek First Nation and the Qalipu First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador to support navigation, identify culturally and ecologically significant species and habitats, identify eelgrass beds and retrieve ghost gear.

The second project will work with Qikiqtaaluk Corporation in the Inuit Birthright Corporation for the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut. It will provide technology and training to Inuit hunters and Trappers Associations to collect data for hunting, fishing and infrastructure planning.

“It brings me great pleasure to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day and announce the Community Hydrography Program,” said DFO Minister Joyce Murray.

“It is a small program making big waves for advancing marine safety and community planning by connecting communities to seafloor mapping technologies and training. Indigenous-owned and collected data is integral to Indigenous community planning. I hope that the program helps to bring forward even more outstanding Indigenous contributions to celebrate on June 21 in the years to come.”

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