HALIFAX—An environmental charity and a First Nation in Nova Scotia are partnering on a project to develop the first generation of zero-emission fishing vessels in Canada.
Oceans North, which supports marine conservation and climate action in partnership with Indigenous and coastal communities, recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Membertou First Nation to work together on the initiative.
“Membertou is incredibly proud to be working with Oceans North to explore opportunities in the electrification of our commercial fishing vessels. As traditional and modern stewards of the land, the Mi’kmaq have great interest in being leaders of a cleaner, greener society. This project marks a step forward, and addresses the urgency necessary to meet our climate change goals. We intend to be part of the solution now, for a better tomorrow,” says Chief Terry Paul.
The announcement comes as governments and industries are working to respond to the climate crisis. As families, communities and businesses across Atlantic Canada continue to recover from Hurricane Fiona, the costliest and most intense storm in recent memory, it’s imperative that we all work together to reduce the emissions that are driving climate change.
“The environmental changes taking place are a call to action for all governments and sectors—including Atlantic Canada’s largest commercial fishery and the boatbuilding industry that supports it,” says Louie Porta, Oceans North’s Executive Director. “Fishers have an opportunity to lead the way towards a net-zero ocean economy, which will not only reduce emissions, but also reduce operation costs.”
The inshore lobster fleet in Nova Scotia provides an ideal opportunity to advance zero-emission propulsion systems. Seventy per cent of the inshore lobster fleet travels within 20 kilometres from shore and can be powered by battery electric systems. It is estimated that the decarbonization of the inshore lobster fleet could displace 82 million kilograms of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of 20,000 cars—and provide new economic opportunities for Nova Scotia’s boat building industry. The solutions pioneered here will also spread to other vessel types.
Google Canada will be supporting the project, through a grant from Google.org. Demonstrating these technologies in a real-world setting is the first step to adopting them more broadly. “At Google, we are committed to building a sustainable future for everyone by making the sustainable choice the easy choice,” says Brian Juhyuk Lee, Sustainability Giving Lead of Google.org, which is providing support for the initiative. “Marine industries are especially tricky to decarbonize and will take more resources than philanthropy can provide. That’s why we’re thrilled to support Oceans North in creating a demonstrable and replicable zero-emissions vessel that can help reduce emissions at scale.”
The RBC Foundation is also supporting with the development of the vessel through its RBC Tech For Nature initiative.
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About Membertou First Nation:
Membertou is a progressive Mi’kmaq community located in Unama’ki-Cape Breton Island. Just 3km from downtown Sydney, Membertou is focused on building a thriving economic landscape to support its greatest stakeholder; its community members.
The Membertou Development Corporation is comprised of twelve corporate entities spanning across various sectors, including, commercial real estate, tourism & hospitality, fisheries and beyond. Membertou invests in strong partnerships, and is now a leading developer in Cape Breton. The Membertou motto is ‘Welcoming the World,’ and the community takes great pride in sharing the rich history and tradition of Mi’kmaq culture, with visitors from across the globe.
About Oceans North:
Oceans North is an environmental charity that supports marine conservation and climate action in partnership with Indigenous and coastal communities. Our goal is to promote policies and programs that address the unprecedented environmental changes taking place in northern marine ecosystems and ensure that they are protected within the framework of Indigenous knowledge, rights and consultation.
Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, supports nonprofits that address humanitarian issues and apply scalable, data-driven innovation to solving the world’s biggest challenges. We accelerate their progress by connecting them with a unique blend of support that includes funding, products, and technical expertise from Google volunteers. We engage with these believers-turned-doers who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. We want a world that works for everyone—and we believe technology and innovation can move the needle.