The Port of Prince Rupert has collaborated with Ocean Networks Canada, a not-for-profit society that has set up two observatories at Ridley Island and Digby Island. In this photo, one of the observatories is being repaired. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

The Port of Prince Rupert has collaborated with Ocean Networks Canada, a not-for-profit society that has set up two observatories at Ridley Island and Digby Island. In this photo, one of the observatories is being repaired. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Rupert port to collaborate with $50.8 million government data program

The Port of Prince Rupert has been collecting baseline data for years

The federal government is pumping $50.8 million into a program that will research how human activities impact marine life along Canadian coastlines.

The Coastal Environmental Baseline Program will collect data from six areas of the country where there is increasing vessel traffic including, the Port of Prince Rupert and the Port of Vancouver, as well as Placentia Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador, Port of Saint John in New Brunswick, St. Lawrence Estuary in Quebec and a location in the Arctic.

“Our Government is taking action to reduce the impacts of human activities on our coastal marine environments. The Coastal Environmental Baseline Program will support evidence-based decisions that will guide economic growth while preserving our marine ecosystems for future generations,” said Dominic LeBlanc, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

The government’s initiative is nothing new in Prince Rupert where the port authority already has an in-depth baseline data program.

“We have a current suite of baseline monitoring programs and a stewardship committee that collaborates with partners and stakeholders to bring everyone to the table,” said Jason Scherr, manager of environmental sustainability.

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The stewardship committee has worked with Ocean Networks Canada, a not-for-profit society that deployed two observatories, one on Digby Island and the other on Ridley Island, in March 2016 to determine changes over time and better inform policy makers on how to manage the area.

The port also has its own monitoring programs for water, air quality, noise, dustfall, carbon emissions and a marine mammal program in collaboration with the Vancouver Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute.

The government hopes that data from the national program will better inform policy decisions that could impact sensitive marine habitat and species, the press release states.

“I think we’ll see enhanced collaboration and community with other entities interested in baseline monitoring,” Scherr said.

Port of Prince Rupert