Natural Resources Canada
Located on the south coast of Newfoundland, Placentia Bay is fringed by a host of small communities, all of which rely to some
extent on the adjoining waters for their livelihood. The bay is considered an environmentally sensitive area, hosting an abundant
and diverse marine ecosystem. The bay is also the scene of significant industrial activity. Placentia Bay is designated as a priority
area in terms of integrated management and substantial activity is ongoing in terms of multi-beam mapping of the seabed. Fisheries and
Oceans Canada (DFO) has an integrated management team in place and local committee convened to discuss issues and make decisions. The
proposed SmartBay initiative is complementary to this activity and will enhance the integrated management effort in Placentia Bay.
The objective of the Placentia Bay Demonstration Project proposed here is to strengthen the technology and information base on which
decisions are being made -
By providing "Simple access by all stakeholders to data and information in support of effective management and sustainable development of
coastal and ocean areas and the safety and security of life at sea". The platform would integrate data from all existing sources and would
be expandable, providing the opportunity for new technology development and integration in support of eco-system based management.
The concept of 'integrated management' that is being applied to coastal and ocean areas relies on ready access to up-to-date information from
all available sources to:
- help decision makers make timely, efficient and appropriate decisions, taking into consideration all competing demands on a particular resource or ocean area
- support research into long-term issues, such as stock sustainability
- help users of coastal and ocean resources operate more safely and efficiently, with less impact on the environment
- support conflict avoidance and resolution between users
- provide ready access of up-to-date information to all users
However, current information available for integration management tends to be locked into any number of 'information silos'. For example:
Local users, such as fishers, tend to have an historical, qualitative understanding of their environment (e.g. movement of fish stocks
and the relationships between stocks (e.g. capelin/cod)) based on long-standing, year over year activity. Many of these users maintain
accurate records of their observations, but they do not as a rule share this information with others.
Researchers tend to study particular phenomena (e.g. the mating habits of snow crab). They generally publish their findings in scientific
journals, but do not make their data accessible to others.
- Resource managers collect their own data to support resource allocation decisions. These data are most often considered proprietary and are not made available to others.
In each case (i.e. fishers, researchers and resource managers), knowledge is usually restricted to specific geographic areas. None of the
individuals in either group has a comprehensive picture of the ecosystem.
Recent technology advancements in sensors, observation systems and data integration allow a larger volume information to be brought to bear on the
goal of integrated management with greater efficiency and usefulness than in the past. For example it is now possible to have real time (within one hour)
access to information on temperature, water currents and water quality, as well as time series information for resource allocation decisions, or research
and modeling. Technologies for these purposes are being developed by a dynamic and growing ocean technology industry. The concept of multiple technologies
integrated into an expandable network in response to the challenges presented through the modern vision of marine integrated management represents both
challenge and opportunity. A demonstration platform is required to validate the practicality of modern technology application/ integration to integrated
management and to showcase this Canadian expertise on the international stage. That demonstration platform is the SmartBay.ca