Research Chair in Coastal Ecosystems and Industrial, Port, and Maritime Activities
Launching the Research Chair in Coastal Ecosystems and Industrial, Port, and Maritime Activities
The Université Laval, the Institut Nordique de Recherche en Environnement et en Santé au Travail (INREST), and the Port of Sept-Îles have announced today the launch of the Research Chair in Coastal Ecosystems and Industrial, Port, and Maritime Activities. The event took place in the presence of the Minister for Transport and Minister Responsible for the Metropolis and the Montréal Region, Chantal Rouleau, and the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister Responsible for the Côte-Nord Region, and acting Minister Responsible for the Capitale-Nationale Region, Jonatan Julien.
The Chair’s mission will be to further the knowledge on coastal ecosystem functions in industrial port zones, in order to identify practices that will ensure a sustainable management of these environments.
The coastal ecotone, located at the intersection of terrestrial and marine areas, is a dynamic environment with complex connectivity to various environments, particularly in the St. Lawrence, where the significant increase of maritime activities has been exerting increasing pressure on ecosystems. Coastal areas are naturally dynamic regions that harbor high diversity, both in terms of landscape and ecosystem richness.
Historically, coastal ecosystems have played an essential role to the development of human societies, as they gave access to numerous resources and allowed exchanges through maritime transport. Nowadays, as a result, many coastal areas host a high human population density, which has led to an accelerated usage of these areas in recent decades. Coastal areas are also on the frontline of climate change impacts, and face, among other things, sea-level rise, shoreline erosion, and ocean acidification. Consequently, important major socio-economic and environmental changes can be expected in the near future in these environments, which are already some of the most severely degraded on the planet.
The research program of this Chair is purposefully multidisciplinary. It integrates cutting edge methods in environmental sciences, which will offer a comprehensive view of the issues relating to global changes in coastal environments in the context of port, industrial, and maritime activities.
The Chair proposes a holistic approach to studying ecosystems in industrial port zones and their associated waterways, in order to optimize the activities carried out in these areas.
The Chair’s objectives are:
- To measure the footprint of human activities associated with industrial port zones.
- To describe and quantify the spatiotemporal effects of the relationships between these activities and their consequences on the various environmental sectors.
- To develop methods and innovative tools (such as the geochemical and molecular sedimentary approach, or the quantitative inference model) to distinguish the main natural environmental changes from those associated with human activities in coastal areas.
- To advise and guide organizations in planning and establishing sustainable solutions in order to adapt to the issues that will have been identified.
- To support the conservation of coastal territories and ecosystems.
The proposed research program involved three areas of expertise.
There is still very little data regarding coastal ecosystems, which are among the most important hydrographic systems in the world. The research program will allow to develop basic knowledge about the functioning of coastal ecosystems in an exhaustive and comprehensive manner.
Students who take part in the Chair’s research activities will be able to interact with research groups that focus on the impacts of global changes on aquatic systems, particularly Québec-Océan. At the end of their studies, these candidates will have acquired a practical know-how that will be useful at the provincial, national, and international scale.
Transfer of Knowledge
The Research Chair in Coastal Ecosystems and Port, industrial, and maritime activities will position its main partners – INREST, Université Laval, and the Port of Sept-Îles – at the leading edge of coastal environment research. Any decisions made in light of its results will have considerable and sustainable influence on healthy environmental management.