Ocean program projects

Projects under the NRC's Ocean program will support technology development within 4 themes to advance Canada's blue economy. A sample of some of the projects being advanced through the program are listed below. These projects are in various stages of development.

Coastal resilience

To study and mitigate the impacts of climate change on Canada's coasts and rivers

Nature-based infrastructure systems for flood and erosion risk management

This collaborative research project involves field monitoring, laboratory experiments and digital twinning to establish a comprehensive knowledge base. We will provide expert guidance for practitioners on the implementation of nature-based features to mitigate flood and erosion risks along Canadian shorelines.

Coastal flood mitigation in Canada

This collaborative research project is focussed on helping coastal communities understand flood risks due to storm surges, waves and tsunami, and make informed decisions about mitigation and adaptation.

Impacts of climate change on future storm surges and nearshore wave conditions

The project involves numerical prediction of storm surges and nearshore wave conditions for future climate scenarios to support flood and erosion risk assessments and adaptation planning for near-coast infrastructure assets.

Intelligent marine assets

To improve the performance of marine vehicles, prediction tools and renewable energy

Maritime autonomous surface ships - control and navigation

This project seeks to allow ships to autonomously interpret data from ice sensors and make optimal tactical navigation decisions. The objectives are to:

  • Complete integration of tank-based image processing and path-following autopilot
  • Develop a numerical testbed for sensor fusion, situational awareness, path identification and path optimization techniques
  • Begin second phase of development of fast-time simulation code, including capability of testing over large geographical areas and changing environmental conditions

Maritime autonomous surface ships - sensors and platforms

NRC researchers are working on a project to develop test platforms for the development of autonomous ship sensor and autopilot systems. The project objectives are to:

  • Develop specifications and secure funding for medium-scale field test platform
  • Develop and build a small-scale field test platform, scope and conduct experiments
  • Develop specifications for an ice-sensor suite to support autonomous navigation
  • Identify and communicate gaps in regional ice data (measurements and forecasts)

Artificial intelligence-assisted full-scale ship data analysis

This project seeks to use AI and machine learning to improve the efficiency and reliability of Canadian cargo ships, providing better decision-support tools. The project objectives are to:

  • Analyze and predict vessel performance using large data sets
  • Explore the unique signatures that each ship–captain pair has on vessel operations
  • Focus on conditions relevant to the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes
  • Focus on emissions reduction and fuel efficiency
  • Focus on anomaly detection and prediction - quantification and identification of the nature of the anomalies

Pollution remediation

To remove ocean pollutants like microplastics, oil spills and underwater noise

Measurement methods and reference materials for nanoplastics

This project seeks to develop new methods for detecting nanoplastics that pose an immediate threat to Canadian ecosystems. In environmental systems, nanoplastics are likely to form heteroaggregates with other natural materials, which makes identification and discrimination challenging. Producing materials with colloidal behaviour relevant to what is found in the natural environment is an essential first step towards developing meaningful detection platforms. Nanoplastics will then be tested in mammalian and non-mammalian cells to assess their uptake, localization and ultimate impact on human and aquatic health.

Predicting the fate and transport of microplastics in the marine environment

NRC researchers are developing a novel numerical modelling tool to simulate the dispersion and fate of microplastic particles in ocean and inland waters. The tool will capture the effects of microplastic particles characteristics on transport and mobility in aquatic environments.  It will provide insight to microplastic distribution patterns, pathways and accumulation zones for applications including environmental effects, monitoring, water-quality management, and mitigation/remediation planning.

Oil spill mitigation and cleanup

The NRC has conducted several projects related to oil spill mitigation and clean-up. The projects listed below are a few examples of how research under the Ocean program contributes to cleaner oceans and freshwater.

Using bacteria to clean up Canada's waterways

Project to study oil-degrading marine bacteria

Project for photo-acoustic underwater oil spill detection

Bio assets

To improve ocean monitoring and produce value-added products from bio-resources

Bio-sensing technologies for the monitoring of oil release in the marine environment

Phytoplankton populations are continuously evolving and adapting to their surrounding environment. In collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the NRC is conducting research to identify phytoplankton species that respond to oil and fuel spills in the marine environment. The objective is to better understand the growth response and biochemical adaptation of these species when exposed to oil and hydrocarbon pollutants, so these biological responses can be detected and measured in real time in ocean waters, as living sensors for oil pollution.

Characterizing new alternative sources of protein for feed applications in aquaculture

As a result of the rapid growth of aquaculture, the industry faces major challenges associated with securing the required amounts of nutritionally appropriate, cost-effective and ecologically sustainable feed ingredients. The NRC and its collaborators have been conducting comprehensive nutritional evaluations of a promising protein-rich and n-3 fatty acid-rich meal, produced from a marine microalgae, for farmed Atlantic salmon.

Bio-transformation of marine biomass and waste stream into value-added products

Fish carcases from aquaculture farms, invasive species colonizing our shoreline, and bycatch from the fishing industry represent opportunity streams and valuable resources for the production of bio-products, including protein for feed, nutraceutical oils, and other bioactive natural products with benefits in human health and wellness. Leveraging its expertise in biomass extraction, fermentation, and enzyme-assisted transformation, the NRC and its collaborators are developing technologies to convert opportunity streams into commercial products.

Advancing Canada's aquaculture into the future

Helping bring the sea cucumber to the natural health market

Contact us

If you are interested in collaborating with us, making investments in this area, or if you have any questions, please contact:

Thomas Puestow
Program Director, Ocean program (acting)
Telephone: 613-299-3257
Email: OceanProgram-ProgrammeOceans@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

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