Lab Canada

$3M to advance Vancouver Island’s ocean research and technology

Victoria, BC – Vancouver Island’s ocean research and technology community have received $3-million funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada.

The funding includes $1.8 million for the University of Victoria for six projects related to oceans research and technology, $1.15 million for the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre for its new Rix Centre for Ocean Discoveries, and $67,000 for the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre (VIATeC) to conduct marine research and development and help small businesses that market ocean technology to compete in a global market.

The projects being funded at the University of Victoria are as follows:

1. Airborne hyperspectral spectroradiometer : $900,000. The funding has enabled the university to purchase an airborne hyperspectral imager that can be used to expand remote researching capabilities in environmental and resource management, to study coastal and marine water characteristics, and to study the severity of pine beetle infestation in remote areas. It can also be used for other applications such as oil and gas exploration, erosion studies and agriculture management.

2 & 3. Centre for Applied Remote Sensing, Modeling and Simulation: $368,000. Funding has enabled the centre to purchase remote sensing equipment. Two hyperspectral field scanners were purchased to assist in the completion of several research initiatives. These imagers will open up new research opportunities related to environmental and resource management by examining spectral characteristics to a finer level of resolution and over much larger areas than was previously possible. Applications include forestry, agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries, mining, oil and gas, watershed management and defence planning. Additional funding of $170,000 was provided through the BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management.

4. Ocean Science Development Centre: $298,400. Funding has assisted in the establishment of the Ocean Science Development Centre, housed in the Technology Enterprise Centre at the University of Victoria. The centre houses the management of the Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea (VENUS) and Canadian management of the North East Pacific Time-Series Undersea Networked Experiments (NEPTUNE). These projects are related to the establishment of undersea infrastructure and data management to support ocean and geological research. The facility will also house the Centre for Earth and Ocean Research.

5. North East Pacific Time-Series Undersea Networked Experiments (NEPTUNE): $200,000. Funding enabled the University of Victoria to purchase equipment for the NEPTUNE project. The NEPTUNE cable network will feature 30 or more seafloor "laboratories" spaced about 100 km apart. From these laboratories, land-based scientists will control and monitor sampling instruments, video cameras and remotely operated vehicles to collect data from the ocean surface to under the seafloor. Instruments will be interactive – scientists will instruct them to respond to events such as storms, fish migrations, earthquakes, tsunamis and underwater volcanic eruptions as they happen. NEPTUNE will expand the boundaries of ocean exploration and provide a new way of studying and understanding the planet. NEPTUNE is a joint Canada – US venture led by the University of Victoria and the University of Washington.

6. Canadian Ocean Information Network: $60,000. Funding will enable the University of Victoria to establish a new not-for-profit society called the Canadian Ocean Information Network Pacific Partnerships Office. It will serve as a hub for ocean information and technology users in western Canada.

“The funding to NEPTUNE Canada increases the capacity of the project to transform our understanding of our ocean,” says Dr Martin Taylor, University of Victoria’s vice-president, research. “Western Economic Diversification Canada’s support for our Centre for Applied Remote Sensing allows us to create a unique airborne platform with a wide range of vital environmental management applications.”

The Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre is receiving $1.15 million in funding to purchase equipment and toward facilities at the new Rix Centre for Ocean Discoveries which houses a marine biotechnology laboratory, a coastal integrity laboratory, a digital imaging and analysis laboratory, new classroom space and a conference centre. The Rix Centre for Ocean Discoveries will add new capacity to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre’s infrastructure, encourage partnerships among universities, industry and other communities, and strengthen western Canada’s technological transfer and commercialization capabilities in the marine sector.

"The opening of the Rix Centre for Ocean Discoveries is the most significant event at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre since its inception," says Dr Dennis Jelinski, director of the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. "Dr Donald B Rix’s vision for the Rix Centre for Ocean Discoveries was to foster innovative applications of science and technology in the ocean/marine sectors, and to lay the groundwork for a spirit of commercialization that creates new opportunities in marine life-sciences."

Finally, the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre (VIATeC) receiving funding of $67,603. This funding supports the centre’s Ocean Technology Sector Development Project, which assists BC’s small- and medium-sized enterprises in the ocean technology sector participate in large-scale ocean technology projects.