New Ocean Supercluster projects tackle climate change and marine fatigue |  Radio-Canada News

New Ocean Supercluster projects tackle climate change and marine fatigue | Radio-Canada News

A waist up photo of a person wearing a red jacket smiling.  A blurry crowd of people can be seen behind her.
Kendra MacDonald, CEO of Canada’s Oceans Supercluster, said the organization is working to grow Canada’s maritime economy fivefold by 2035. (Darrell Roberts/CBC)

Climate change and ocean security are at the forefront of two new ocean technology projects led by companies based in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, a federally-led marine industry organization, announced funding totaling $11.3 million for the projects on Friday.

“These two projects are what we’re funding,” Kendra MacDonald, CEO of Canada’s Oceans Supercluster, said in an interview with reporters. “They’re collaborative, they have global reach, they have plenty of opportunities for growth, and they’re tackling a very important challenge in the ocean economy.”

According to MacDonald, the two projects are currently expected to last about two years.

Compusult, a Mount Pearl-based technology company, is leading a coastal mapping project that will use autonomous unmanned vehicles to monitor and map coastlines. The vehicles will collect data for a variety of purposes, including coastal defence, life sciences, aquaculture, emergency planning and climate change monitoring.

Paul Mitten, co-founder and vice president of Compusult, said the systems will monitor coastal erosion from extreme weather events such as post-tropical storm Fiona.

“There are more people on the planet, more things happening with climate change, coastal erosion, the impact of severe storms like we saw in Port aux Basques,” he said. .

Autonomous vehicles, which are being developed by several technology and robotics companies, will be able to safely collect data from remote coastal areas for long periods of time, Mitten said.

“Instead of people, you actually have these systems near shore, monitoring and capturing information about things that can affect our shores, our economy, and our well-being from multiple angles,” he said.

A waist-length photo of a person wearing a suit and tie.
Paul Mitten, CEO and Vice President of Compusult, said the project will use autonomous vehicles to make coastal mapping less resource-intensive. (Darrell Roberts/CBC)

Mitten said the vehicles could help free up human resources in other areas, such as maritime search and rescue.

The supercluster is injecting $1.8 million into the project, while an additional $4.5 million will come from industry partners and the Nova Scotia government, which is contributing $30,000.

Marine Fatigue Mitigation

The other project, led by educational technology company Training Work, aims to lessen the impact of marine fatigue.

According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, fatigue has contributed to “many” marine accidents around the world. Tamara Vatcher, CEO of Training Works, said one of the goals of training is to help prevent fatigue-related incidents.

“Fatigue is something that we all suffer from around the world, seafarers, their organisations, but also communities,” she said.

A person wearing a plaid blazer looks to the right.
Tamara Vatcher, CEO of Training Works, said accident prevention is one of the goals of the new marine safety training software. (Darrell Roberts/CBC)

According to a press release, the technology will help workers recognize, understand and anticipate fatigue. Offshore workers will be able to access the tool while on the job through an app on their phone, Vatcher said. Companies will also be able to use the tool in addition to existing training.

“We’re going to evolve our technology to adapt to the environment. It’s not something that’s built and stuck, we have to understand and learn from the environment, and we’ll adapt our technology to basically adapt to this,” she said.

The Supercluster will provide $1.9 million in funding for the project, while the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will provide $335,000. Another $2,765,000 will come from other industry partners.

According to the Supercluster, Canada’s maritime economy generated $39 billion in GDP in 2019, about half the global average contribution. MacDonald said the group is working to grow Canada’s ocean economy to $220 billion by 2035.

“I think to achieve that ambition, we really need to fundamentally change the way we work together,” she said.

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