The Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF) provides financial support to environmentally focused projects (1). The funded projects are determined by the ESRF Management Board, comprised of representatives from the Government of Canada, oil and gas companies, and members of the public (1). The ESRF emerged via the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, which manages the obtainment of natural resources within regions in which oil and gas under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (1). In order to maintain this control, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada sits on the Management Board of the ESRF and leads the ESRF Northern Advisory Committee, which plays a consultative role for the Management Board (1). The Management Board ultimately determines the issues of focus for research projects and ensures that the interests of stakeholders are considered (1).
The Management board established research priorities for 2015-2018, separating topics based on specific regions (2). Issues of concern in the Northern Region include the planning in response to a spill, specifically to protect aquatic ecosystems in the Arctic (2). Another concern within Northern regions is the application of natural resources obtained and ensuring that they are in accordance with government expectations (2). One of the projects funded by the ESRF in the Northern Region is the Integrated Beaufort Observatory, focused on creating a system in the Canadian Beaufort Sea for observation of sea ice and monitoring the status of this ocean (3).
Another region of focus for research is the Atlantic Offshore region, in which projects also focus on the prevention and handling of oil spills and work to understand how species are impacted by seismic sound (2). One such project funded by the ESRF observes the effects of sound emissions coming from a seismic gun on marine mammals in order to better understand methods to monitor marine mammals within Atlantic Offshore regions (3).
Overall, projects supported by the ESRF help to protect marine ecosystems within specific priority regions, allowing for obtainment of natural resources while addressing environmental concerns. The projects outlined prioritize working with representatives not only within the oil and gas industry, but also within the government in order to balance the expectations and interests.