By Moira Baird
FOR THE SOU’WESTER
Transcontinental Media/The Telegram
The SmartBay project in Placentia Bay will reel in $224,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) over the next two years.
An ocean-monitoring system, SmartBay has provided real-time information on Placentia Bay vessel traffic, weather and ocean temperature since 2006.
The ACOA money will pay for operational costs of the project led by the Fisheries and Marine Institute’s School of Ocean Technology.
“It will also enable the school of ocean technology to lead the development and implementation of a new business plan to make SmartBay sustainable over the long term,” said Senator Fabian Manning at the time of the announcement.
To date, ACOA has contributed $2 million to the project.
SmartBay also has a trio of weather buoys that track wind, waves and barometric pressure - information used by fishermen and oil tanker captains plying the waters of Placentia Bay.
That information is publicly available on the SmartBay website at www.smartbay.ca.
Manning revealed “SmartBay web visits average about 7,000 per month.” He said local technology companies rely on SmartBay to develop and test new products.
“In March 2010, Rutter Technologies used SmartBay buoys to field trial their next generation radar technology.”
Manning said other industries, such as aquaculture, can also benefit as the SmartBay technology expands beyond Placentia Bay.
Marine Institute executive director of fisheries Glenn Blackwood explained, “What SmartBay does is give better information for better decision-making.”
He said hundreds of tankers navigate Placentia Bay on their way to the Come By Chance oil refinery or the Whiffen Head transshipment facility.
“It’s the second-busiest port in Canada, and we’re doing it in an area that is harsh-weather environment and it’s one of the foggiest places on the planet.”
SmartBay Placentia Bay is an initiative of the School of Ocean Technology (SOT) at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Fisheries and Marine Institute. Along with the SOT, the SmartBay team includes industry partners AMEC Earth and Environmental, International Communication and Navigation (ICAN) and Earth Information Technologies Ltd.