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Funding for SmartBay Ocean Observation Project

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR, CANADA - An internationally-recognized ocean observation project in Placentia Bay will be further advanced with a $330,000 investment from the Provincial Government.

The investment in SmartBay was announced today by the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, and marks the initial investment under the recently released Oceans of Opportunity, a five-year $28 million strategy focused on stimulating growth in Newfoundland and Labrador’s ocean technology sector.

The announcement was made at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University (MI), where Minister Skinner was joined by Glenn Blackwood, Executive Director of MI; Bill Carter, Manager of Ocean Observation of MI’s School of Ocean Technology; and Dave Robbins, Vice-President of AMEC Earth and Environmental, along with members of the local ocean technology community.

"Through Oceans of Opportunity, the Provincial Government pledged a commitment to support initiatives that best position Newfoundland and Labrador’s ocean technology sector in the emerging blue economy," said Minister Skinner. "Today, I am pleased to announce our inaugural investment under the recently released strategy. The SmartBay project characterizes the innovative technologies and collaborative efforts that are flourishing in the province’s ocean technology sector. It also helps monitor ocean conditions and protect the ecosystem of a bay that has approximately $7 billion in products transported in and out of it annually."

The current investment builds upon the Provincial Government’s 2008 commitment of $250,000 in the SmartBay project. It enables the purchase of WatchKeeper buoys that will enable the project to become fully operational and allow for greater weather, environmental monitoring, and observation of ocean conditions.

"SmartBay is an oceans observation network that is receiving international attention," said Mr. Blackwood. "It promotes safe travel and marine operations within Placentia Bay. The information provided assists in the effective management and sustainable development of local fishing, transport and eco-tourism industries. Every month more than 7,000 people visit SmartBay.ca for customized weather and sea-state forecast information. This data is updated four times a day and is used by vessel operators to improve marine safety, environmental protection and marine efficiency. MI is proud to team with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and our industry partners, AMEC Earth and Environmental, ICAN and Earth Information Technologies (EIT), to provide this crucial information."

SmartBay began as an environmental monitoring demonstration project in Placentia Bay in 2005 with the goal of creating awareness of the importance of better observing the marine environment. Today, it is the largest ocean observation project in eastern Canada and an example of industry working in partnership with the Provincial Government and academic communities.

"Participation in SmartBay provides AMEC with a long-term opportunity to verify and further develop its high resolution weather forecasting model capabilities," said Mr. Robbins. "AMEC offers value-added meteorology and oceanographic services to local and international energy, transportation and mining clients. It is government investments in research and development initiatives such as SmartBay that help us to develop new applications and solutions to our client’s complex issues."

the Fish Site Editor

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