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Feds announce $4.7M for Placentia Bay ecosystem restoration project

Published on September 11, 2017

Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced $4.7 million over five years for the Marine Institute on Monday morning. The funding will be used to help restore the ecosystem in Placentia Bay.

©Joe Gibbons/SaltWire Network

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Memorial University’s Marine Institute is receiving $4.7 million over five years from the federal government for a project to help restore the ecosystem in Placentia Bay. 

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc made the announcement Monday morning.

According to a press release, the project will enhance the Placentia Bay ecosystem, benefitting fish and shellfish resources in coastal waters by restoring eelgrass beds, and enhancing habitat through deployment of artificial reefs.

It will also restore migratory corridors for Atlantic salmon and increase ecosystem productivity for at-risk species such as blue whales and leatherback turtles.

“I am pleased that our collaboration with the Marine Institute in Newfoundland and Labrador will ensure a healthy, thriving ecosystem in Placentia Bay for future generations,” LeBlanc said.

The federal government announced the creation of a Coastal Restoration Fund in May with $75 million allocated to help rehabilitate some of Canada’s most important marine ecosystems and address threats to marine species. 

The fund is a part of the national $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan.

The Marine Institute is the first group in Newfoundland and Labrador to receive project funding through the fund.

The project will be led by the Marine Institute’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research (CFER) and will include partnerships with the Miawpukek First Nation, ACAP Humber Arm, Salmon Association of Eastern Newfoundland, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) union and local fish harvesters.

The release noted will be opportunities for training and skills development of Indigenous summer interns and graduate students, as well as skill transfer of technical expertise to local communities.

The Marine Institute will also fund other activities beyond the scope of the project, including new research programs to monitor eelgrass bed cover and abundance of lobster and cod in Placentia Bay, reproduction of techniques used in this project to other regions of the province and creation of an online citizen science database to involve public in long-term monitoring.

“Projects of this magnitude and importance are the reason why the Marine Institute’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research was created,” said Marine Institute vice-president Glenn Blackwood.

“We are proud to partner with DFO, the Miawpukek First Nation, fishing industry stakeholders, and local communities to rehabilitate eelgrass habitats and associated fish and shellfish resources in the coastal waters of Placentia Bay with the goal of sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems for years to come.”