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Testing the Efficacy of a New Floating Breakwater Design: Maximizing Effectiveness of Engineering Solutions and Minimizing the Environmental Damage Associated with Climate Change


Fisheries and Oceans Canada is leading a project to build and test a full-scale floating breakwater, based on the one-tenth scale model shown above, which was tested in a wave tank. The full-scale floating breakwater will be 30-meters long. Photo: DFO – NL Region, Small Craft Harbours Branch.

One responsibility of the Small Craft Harbours Branch of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the provision of protected harbours and berthing facilities for commercial fishing vessels. The cost of providing and maintaining such infrastructure (particularly protective breakwater structures) is expected to grow as climate change raises sea levels and increases the size and frequency of storms and destructive storm surge events. This project will proactively explore the potential use of floating breakwaters as a cost-effective option for minimizing the damage that could result from climate change.

Floating breakwaters cost 75 to 80 percent less to build than a comparable fixed rubble-mound breakwater, and they are unaffected by rising water levels, and could be moved to adapt to changing port and vessel needs. This could prove very useful when harbours on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and farther north become ice free year-round. The goal of this project is to design and build a full-scale floating breakwater—based on a study of scale models and wave tank data—and carry out a test deployment to assess its effectiveness and potential ecological effects on marine life and harbour habitats.

Program Name

Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)


Atlantic: Newfoundland, Labrador Shelves

Principal Investigator(s)

Gregory Robert
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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