In May the Port of Sept-Iles, the Institut Nordique de Recherche en Environnement et en Santé au Travail (INREST) and the City of Sept-Îles, in partnership with the pan-Canadian project CHONe II, played host to the first International Congress on Industrial Port Research in Canada.

The conference attracted some 300 delegates from 6 provinces including ports, municipalities, businesses, industries, economic development groups as well as academics from 8 countries.

“Things went extremely well, it was a fantastic event,” says Manon D’Auteuil, Eng., Director Engineering and Sustainable Development at the Port of Sept-Îles.

Funded by the Canadian network in the health of the Oceans CRSNG and by its partners: the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and INREST (represented by the Port of Sept-Îles and the city of Sept-Îles) to help develop new conservation strategies for Canada’s changing oceans, CHONe brings together 39 researchers, several federal research labs, 11 universities and one community college.

Held May 27–31, the three-day event featured some 40 presentations on topics ranging from the findings in the final report on the Port of Sept-Îles’ three-phase environmental observatory study and real-time ocean monitoring in British Columbia to the development of international standards for Arctic and cold-climate operations in the oil and gas industry operations to oil spill response, recovery and remediation in the 21st century.

The congress also featured an opening-night gala, a closing ceremony with student grant awards and technical visits of the port and the aluminum smelter «Aluminerie Alouette».

According to D’Auteuil, the impetus for the congress was the reaction by scientists to the partnership between the Port of Sept-Îles, industries, municipality for funding the environmental observatory study at the 4th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Montreal in May 2018.

« It generated a lot of interest on the topic of industrial ports areas and the different research projects being done on them, » says D’Auteuil.

The Sept-Îles congress, she adds, achieved its purpose as a forum for researchers to share knowledge and updates about projects involving industrial port areas.

The congress also touched on wider issues like decision-making and environmental management to make maritime transportation sustainable and to preserve marine ecosystems.

« It was really interesting and stimulating to see the mix of all these people coming at these issues from different perspectives and sharing their impressions and ideas and even proposing the possibility of doing some projects together, » says D’Auteuil.

Another CIRSIP conference is expected to be held in 2021. Though the venue hasn’t been selected yet by INREST, D’Auteuil says it will most likely be held in another port city.

« It would be nice to do it again, » says D’Auteuil. « But other cities will surely be interested to host the event even if it’s a lot of work to organize and carry out. »

In addition to raising international attention and interest in the sustainable development of industrial port areas, D’Auteuil outlined the fact that a 792-page book on the findings of the bay of Sept-Îles environmental observatory was given to all speakers.

“We still have many questions that remain unanswered,” says D’Auteuil. “But with all the interest on this subject, hopefully we can soon find those answers.”