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International scientists collaborate on study to survey sea floor


St John’s, NL – A ground-breaking international survey of the largely unknown deep water terrain of the Continental Shelf off Canada’s east coast is currently underway. The two-year research project is the largest of its kind conducted in the area.

Canada has joined Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia in the study. The researchers, including Canadian scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, arrived in St John’s on August 23, onboard the Miguel Oliver, Spain’s state-of-the-art research vessel. They have now concluded the first three-month leg of at-sea research.

“Spain and Canada share an interest in adopting measures to ensure sustainable use of sea resources and conservation of marine biodiversity in all maritime areas,” said Elena Espinosa Mangana, Spanish minister of environment, rural development and marine affairs. “This project is an example of the way forward within a framework of scientific cooperation between countries of traditional fisheries, such as Spain and Canada, with a goal of sustainable fishing activities and conservation of vulnerable marine ecosystems.”

Scientists working on the project are aiming to obtain new information in areas of geology, biology, and ecology from the deep sea, one of the least studied and understood of the world’s ecosystems.

Researchers have now surveyed over 24,800 sq-km and collected hundreds of deepwater samples from around the Flemish Cap, Flemish Pass, and an area south of the Grand Banks. Scientists will analyze the raw data and samples in the coming months to verify results and gain further understanding of the characteristics of the survey area.

If the research identifies new aspects of vulnerable marine ecosystems not already understood, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Contracting Parties are expected to review existing measures taken to protect these areas and explore any further measures that may be required.