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Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Whale Innovation Challenge

Fostering innovation to protect our whales

The Whale Innovation Challenge, developed in partnership with Nesta, aims to develop new solutions towards real-time detection and location of whales in our waters. The goal is to better understand the location, abundance and movements of whales and whale populations over a broad scale of time and distance.

Whales in crisis

Canada is home to 42 different whale populations, 18 of which are considered to be at risk under the Species at Risk Act. Significant efforts are being taken to help endangered whales, in particular the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Southern Resident Killer Whale and the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga, survive and recover.

Recent losses in the Southern Resident Killer Whale and North Atlantic Right Whale populations, two iconic species, raised awareness and led to unprecedented attention on the need to protect whales and a public call to action. Central to our ability to protect these whales is to know where they are and when/how they are migrating.

What can we do to help?

New technologies are needed to support whale protection and recovery goals. Existing tagging methodologies are expensive, have proven difficult to attach to whales, and are inconsistent in operation and unsuited for many whale species.

The solutions developed through this challenge will contribute to scientific whale research and overall efforts to protect endangered whales in Canada.

How will tracking solutions help?

Tracking information can be used to establish and refine measures to protect whales, including:

  • vessel traffic controls for whale avoidance
  • fishing practice modifications
  • regulation of the whale watching industry

Next Steps

In June 2018, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the intent to launch a public challenge prize, developed in partnership with Nesta. The goal is to mobilize the technology development community in Canada and globally to help find new solutions to address this critical problem.

The application process is not open at this time. More information on the challenge will be available in the coming months.