The Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland has been named the winner of the Distinction in Innovation Award at the 2009 Export and Innovation Awards.
The Marine Institute won for its work with SmartBay, an MI-led oceans observation project that plays a valuable role in support of marine operations in Placentia Bay. The award acknowledges MI’s attempts to improve safety within the bay while providing timely and indispensable data regarding weather, sea state and traffic conditions.
“The Marine Institute is honoured to have been named the winner of the 2009 Distinction in Innovation award,” said Glenn Blackwood, executive director, Marine Institute. “The SmartBay project is an important implementation of technology that has put the infrastructure in place to improve safety and navigation in Placentia Bay and we thank the provincial government for rewarding our efforts and the efforts of our industry partners.”
The SmartBay project is led by the Marine Institute’s School of Ocean Technology (SOT) and includes major contributions from industry partners AMEC Earth and Environmental, International Communications and Navigation (ICAN) Ltd. and Earth Information Technologies (NL) Ltd.
“The SmartBay team is an excellent example of a successful public/private partnership at work,” Mr. Blackwood said. “SmartBay is the largest ocean observation initiative in eastern Canada and one of the most successful in the country. This wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have the support of such highly regarded and innovative industry partners and the total dedication of SmartBay project manager Bill Carter.”
The SmartBay project provides customized weather and sea state forecast information via the web portal www.SmartBay.ca. The data is gathered through the use of four oceanographic buoys strategically placed in Placentia Bay. The information is updated four times daily and provides information to assist in effective management and sustainable development of coastal ocean areas of Placentia Bay.
Fishers, shipping companies and other users in the area routinely take advantage of SmartBay as a user-driven ocean observing system that helps them make better decisions about their operations in the bay. The buoy data is available to the public in near-real time and the website now averages 250 visits a day and 7,000 visits a month.
“Canship Ugland tankers, Newfoundland Transshipment tug operations, Placentia Bay Traffic Centre, Atlantic Pilotage Authority and the fishing community are all regular users of SmartBay,” said Mr. Blackwood. “The meteorological data collected is routinely used to help decide when weather and sea-state conditions make it necessity to close the bay to tanker traffic.”
The SmartBay project also involves the placing of automatic identification systems onboard small fishing vessels as well as large oil tankers travelling in Placentia Bay. This allows vessel operators to know when they are coming upon another boat, which is especially useful in the heavy fog that often floats through Placentia Bay.
“As part of the SmartBay initiative, Placentia Bay has also been mapped with great detail to provide a better understanding of what the seabed is like,” Blackwood added.
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador made a significant contribution to SmartBay in 2008 with a $250,000 investment in the project. The provincial government followed that up with a $330,000 contribution in SmartBay in August 2009.
The Distinction in Innovation Award recognizes an individual or group that makes an outstanding contribution towards Newfoundland and Labrador’s innovative culture. The recipient of the award must display leadership and enthusiasm toward fostering new ideas that positively impact the province and its people. The Marine Institute was a finalist for the award in 2008.
The annual Export and Innovation Awards are presented each year by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. This year’s ceremony took place on Wednesday, Nov. 18. For more information on the Export and Innovation Awards, visit www.intrd.gov.nl.ca/intrd/innovation/awards/index.html