Guiding discussion around marine risk

Today, business leaders and researchers in the marine risk field are gathering in Saint John for the Port of Saint John Marine Risk Workshop. 

Led by the Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR), the workshop will build connections between local and regional organizations, as well as researchers who share an interest in improving stakeholders’ ability to manage and respond to marine risk. The outcomes of these discussions will help guide future research directions. 

We spoke with Neil Gall, executive director of MEOPAR, to learn more about this workshop. 

Tell us more about MEOPAR.

MEOPAR, which stands for the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network, is a national research network based at Dalhousie University.  MEOPAR has a $25 million budget over five years to examine and help mitigate risk issues related to the Canadian marine environment.  MEOPAR has partner universities from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia and is funded through the federal government’s Network of Centres of Excellence program.  

Why host this workshop in Saint John?

MEOPAR is hosting this workshop in Saint John as the port is dynamic area with a high level of marine traffic from a variety of industries.  With the proposed East-West pipeline and other projects on the horizon, this level of activity is going to increase.  With increased activity comes increased risk so now is the time to examine the current state of research and see if there are areas where MEOPAR can apply its resources to help build resilience to those risks.  While the focus of this event will be on Saint John, there will be lessons learned here we can apply to other regions of the country, as our scope is national. 

There is a tremendous amount of research underway in and around the port and throughout New Brunswick now so we want to partner with existing research teams and use our resources as leverage where possible.  There are presently no New Brunswick researchers in our network so we also want to introduce MEOPAR so that we can add new researchers and partner institutions to our organization. 

Who does this workshop appeal to and what benefits does participating have for local groups?

We have been very pleased with the reception to this workshop as we have attracted a diverse group of stakeholders, including federal departments, industrial users of the port, researchers from New Brunswick universities, representatives of the fishing industry, safety and security officials, environmental groups and many others.  The workshop will be a chance to share information on current research and activities.  By the end of the day, we hope to identify areas of interest for future research collaborations.  MEOPAR will be having a call for proposals later this fall and some of the concepts developed in the workshop may turn into active projects.

Anything else you’d like to add.

The only thing I would like to add is to thank all of those individuals and organizations who expressed an interest in this workshop and are giving up time from their busy schedules.  We want to thank our government and academic colleagues for being willing to share their current work and to talk about how we can cooperate in the future for a safer marine environment in Saint John and in other regions across the country.

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