Innovation Spotlights – Ocean Idea Challenge 2024

The following are Innovation Spotlights, identified by Merinov

Merinov is a sea-to-market industrial research centre that leads the way in innovation and specializes in technology specific to fisheries, aquaculture, processing and marine bioresources.

Ghost Fishing Gear

Abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear, often called “ghost gear,” is a significant source of marine pollution. It continues to catch fish and marine animals indiscriminately, leading to severe ecological consequences and economic losses. Addressing this issue requires collaboration across various sectors involved in marine activities.

  • Develop an AI-based application to connect the various players in the value chain for the identification and recycling of ghost fishing gear.

Restoring Marine Ecosystems

Marine ecosystems are vital for global biodiversity and human livelihoods but are under threat from pollution, overfishing, and climate change. Restoring these ecosystems can enhance biodiversity, boost ecosystem services, and stabilize climate regulation processes.

  • Develop methods for measuring the benefits derived from the restoration of marine ecosystems, such as monitoring the carbon sequestration of seaweed beds.

Marine Mammals Preservation

Marine mammals often face threats from human activities like fishing, where they can become entangled in fishing gear or be disturbed by vessel noise. Mitigating these interactions is crucial for the conservation of these species.

  • Develop an automated acoustic and thermal detection system to prevent interaction between marine mammals and fishing activities.

Sustainable Aquaculture

As the demand for seafood continues to rise, aquaculture has become a critical component of global fish supplies. Innovating aquaculture to be more sustainable and less impactful on the environment is a key challenge.

  • Develop multi-species aquaculture systems that promote ecological balance and reduce dependency on wild fish stocks.

Alternative Baits

The fishing industry often relies on specific types of bait, which can be limited due to overfishing or seasonal shortages. Finding sustainable alternatives is essential to ensure the industry’s sustainability.

  • Develop alternative baits to meet the shortage of traditional baits, focusing on sustainability and efficiency.

Intelligent Trawls

Bycatch—the capture of unintended species during fishing—is a major issue in fisheries management. It affects biodiversity and the sustainability of fishing practices.

  • Design trawls using AI to identify species (e.g., redfish) and avoid bycatch, thus enhancing the selectivity of fishing operations.

Seafood Traceability

With increasing concerns about the sustainability and safety of seafood, traceability has become a crucial aspect of the seafood industry. It helps in verifying the authenticity and ethical sourcing of seafood products.

  • Develop a seafood traceability application that integrates different traceability systems encompassing the whole value chain, from catch to consumer.

The following are Innovation Spotlights, identified by econext

econext is a not-for-profit association of businesses that accelerates clean growth in Newfoundland and Labrador

Off-Shore Energy

Canada’s oceans present a new challenge for offshore wind developments: icebergs. To realize the region’s full economic potential, new technologies and procedures are needed to mitigate the risks that icebergs may present to offshore wind farms. 

  • Develop a solution to predict the flow and/or mitigate the risks of icebergs on offshore wind farms and infrastructure. 

Fuel switching for marine transportation

Ships and boats are long-term investments; while future vessels may incorporate renewable technologies in their designs, fossil fuels dependent vessels will still be on our waters for many years. Given the size of Canada’s ocean sectors and the important role that marine transportation plays, economical approaches to fuel switching for marine transportation are required if Canada is to meet its net zero by 2050 commitments.

  • Develop economical and scalable solutions for retrofitting existing marine vessels to utilize alternative, low-emission fuels such as hydrogen, ammonia, or biofuels, ensuring compatibility with current infrastructure and operational demands.

Storm surge modeling

Climate change is causing more intense storm activity more often in Canada. Storm surges have proven to have the capacity to inflict a great deal of damage to our communities, and this is true in many places of the world. Better storm surge modeling may prove to have important benefits from the perspective of infrastructure planning, emergency preparedness, etc.

  • Develop advanced modeling tools that can predict the impact of storm surges with greater accuracy and provide real-time data integration. These tools should be designed to assist in urban planning, emergency response strategies, and the development of infrastructure capable of withstanding severe weather events.


Regions across Canada have a significant wastewater problem. The discharge of sewage to the ocean environment in the form of treated or untreated wastewater can have serious impacts on life. The investment, installation, monitoring, and maintenance related to most technologies is a burden that most small communities find extremely difficult to bear. New approaches and solutions are required to help Canada to discontinue this environmentally unsustainable practice.

  • Develop cost-effective, low-maintenance wastewater treatment solutions tailored for small communities in Canada. These solutions should minimize environmental impact, be easy to implement and maintain, and effectively reduce or eliminate the discharge of harmful contaminants into the marine environment.

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