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Building Arctic Capacity for Arctic Oil Spill Monitoring and Response

C-CORE project funded by Irving Shipbuilding/Nunavut Research Institute applied R&D initiative

St. John’s, Newfoundland (6 October 2016) – A C-CORE-led project selected under an initiative by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and the Nunavut Research Institute aims to involve residents of Canada’s Arctic communities in applied research and development to enhance marine safety and improve response to marine incidents.  The Enhanced Capacity for Oil Spill Situational Awareness and Response in Nunavut project will build local capacity for satellite-based oil spill monitoring and in-field spill response. The project focuses on satellite reconnaissance and geospatial technologies for monitoring and assessing oil spills, developing knowledge and skills for in-field spill response, and developing and implementing a community-based spill response strategy. Technical research activities aim to improve detection and characterization of oil slicks using both radar and optical satellite imagery, and develop methods of mapping shoreline sensitivity tailored for Nunavut. Wherever possible, Inuit traditional knowledge will be integrated into the methodology.

A key goal of the project is to develop highly knowledgeable and skilled personnel within Nunavut, to take an active role in responding to potential threats posed by marine pollution events, protect sensitive environments and preserve traditional livelihoods.  Training in oil spill response, as well as in geospatial information processing and analysis, will be conducted in Nunavut using a train-the-trainer model. Trainees - at least five in the first session - will ideally have an undergraduate degree or advanced diploma in a relevant discipline, and have a strong interest in training and capacity-building at the community level.  Two Nunavut students will also have the opportunity to pursue studies in remote sensing related to oil slick characterization and shoreline sensitivity mapping, supervised by C‑CORE staff affiliated with Memorial University.

The C-CORE led project was proposed in response to a Call for Proposals issued by the Nunavut Research Institute in June 2016. It was selected for funding by an independent review committee of scientists and northern experts.  In total, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and the Nunavut Research Institute awarded $2 million in funding to nine applied Arctic research projects focused on areas of importance to Canada’s Arctic communities and the marine industry.

The funding is provided by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. as part of a Value Proposition commitment associated with its contract to build Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) under Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).The project team includes organizations with significant expertise in Arctic issues and a track record of working with Nunavut communities. Key team members include C-CORE (lead, geospatial research and training), Marine Institute – Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (oil spill response training), the Nunavut Fisheries Training Consortium (community engagement and facilitation of training) and Polar View Canada (coordination of consultations and workshops). 

In 2014 C-CORE’s LOOKNorth centre of excellence completed a study to assess the current state of oil spill monitoring and response capability in the Hudson Strait and Davis Strait areas, and to recommend improvements. Funded by the Nunavut General Monitoring Program, the study was commissioned by the Nunavut Planning Commission to gather information in response to concerns expressed during consultations on the Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan.