Call for Letters of Interest (LOIs) for Environmental and Social Studies – Atlantic Salmon

Applicants’ Guide:

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


The purpose of the Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF) is to finance environmental and social studies pertaining to the manner in which and to the terms and conditions under which, petroleum exploration, development, and production activities on frontier lands should be conducted. As such, the ESRF funds studies that provide stakeholders with relevant environmental and social information relating to petroleum exploration, development and production activities in frontier lands. This information can be used to inform best operational practices as well as policy and regulatory development. Further details on the Fund are available through our website:

During recent key regulatory environmental assessment processes, questions were raised concerning: 1) the presence or absence of Atlantic salmon (Salmo solar) in areas of offshore oil and gas activity in eastern Canada; and 2) if they are present, what could be the possible impact of such activities on salmon survival while at sea.

Atlantic salmon is an important anadromous fish species in eastern Canada. These fish spend their early lives in freshwater and then migrate long distances to the sea to feed and grow before returning as mature adults to spawn in their natal river. Since the late 1980’s, there has been a significant decline in the number of adult salmon returning to their native river to spawn, which has raised questions regarding the recovery and survival of many salmon stocks on the east coast of Canada (see DFO Stock assessment for the Maritimes Region and Newfoundland and Labrador Region).

Project Objective and Scope

The objective of this call is to develop a program of research aimed to determine the presence of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in specific Canadian offshore regions (see Key Criteria) to inform regulatory decision making in Canada’s offshore areas. Studies should build on current knowledge of migratory behaviour of Atlantic salmon and be focussed on the duration Atlantic salmon are at sea. Projects that consider behaviour of Atlantic salmon in regions of offshore oil and gas activities may also be considered.

Key Outcomes

The studies funded by this research call are expected to support the decision-making process surrounding current and future offshore oil and gas activities by providing science-based information on Atlantic salmon migratory patterns at sea, especially in areas of offshore oil and gas activities in eastern Canada.

Eligible Funding Recipients

Eligible funding recipients must be:

  • Legal entities validly incorporated or registered in Canada, including:
    • For profit and not for profit organizations such as companies, industry associations, research associations, etc.;
    • Indigenous organizations and groups;
    • Community groups; and
    • Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions; or
  • Federal, provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments and their departments, agencies and research centres.

Key Criteria

  1. Project location: Projects must take place in the ESRF Southern Regions 5 to 16. While studies could consider onshore or nearshore work, as appropriate and scientifically necessary, the focus of the work should reside in the offshore ESRF Southern Regions 8 to 15.
  2. Atlantic salmon: Proposals must focus on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) as a key species of interest. Other species contributing to meet the objective of this Atlantic salmon research call could also be considered.
Map of ESRF Southern Regions

Map of ESRF Southern Regions
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Visual representation of the Environmental Studies Research Fund’s southern regions 1 to 16 as described in the Environmental Studies Research Fund Regions Regulations

  1. Eligible activities: The ESRF’s mandate is to fund environmental and social studies pertaining to the manner in which, and the terms and conditions under which, petroleum exploration, development and production activities on Canada’s frontier lands should be conducted. Such studies could involve, but are not limited to,
    • Fieldwork, including tagging studies of young and adult Atlantic salmon to track migration in areas of offshore oil and gas activities;
    • Modelling and/or analytical work based on appropriate and rigorous data sets; and
    • Social and economic studies, which could include the collection of Indigenous and local knowledge, to understand and map the migratory pattern of Atlantic salmon at sea.
  1. The ESRF Management Board maintains a strong focus on stakeholder engagement. Proponents should consider how they will engage stakeholders including but not limited to:
    • Indigenous groups;
    • Commercial ∕ recreational fishers and their organizations;
    • Environmental NGOs;
    • Regulatory agencies and departments with relevant mandates and responsibilities;
    • The East Coast offshore oil and gas industry.

Funding Allocation

ESRF can fund up to 100% of the Total Study Costs with a minimum/maximum funding per project ranging from $200,000 to $3,000,000 per year for up to four years. Total individual project funding shall not exceed $12,000,000. Projects must finish by March 31, 2024.

Any expenditure incurred prior to signing of a Funding Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding will not be counted towards Eligible Expenditures by ESRF.

Collaborative projects are encouraged and preference may be given to projects with collaborators contributing financial support.

Applicants are encouraged to consider research partnerships and/or collaborations with other research entities having special expertise in, or engaged in, research pertinent to the proposal. The nature of the potential partnership and/or collaborations must be described in overview and supplemented by letters of intent from the proposed entity. Such partnerships or collaborations need not be restricted to Canadian entities. However, if international partnership entities are contemplated, the majority of the in-field research must still take place in the Canadian East Coast offshore area, ESRF Southern Regions 8-15.

How to submit a proposal

This call will be submitted in two separate stages detailed below. Please note the deadlines for each phase. Late and/or incomplete proposals will NOT be accepted.

Phase 1: Letter of Interest (LOI)

Applicants are asked to fill out the provided LOI template, detailing an overview of the proposed scope of work.

LOIs must be submitted by 23:59 EDT September 1st, 2019 to with the subject “LOI – Atlantic Salmon”. Incomplete and/or late LOIs will not be accepted. We recommend applicants keep a record of the date and time their LOI was submitted as proof in case of any dispute.

Phase 2: Full Project Proposal (FPP)

Applicants advanced from the LOI phase will be invited to complete a full project proposal (FPP). The template and associated deadlines will be communicated at that time. Please note that a request for a full project proposal will not represent a funding commitment from the ESRF.

Applicants can expect that FPPs will require a more detailed description of the proposed research, key milestones and budget considerations.

Additional Notes:

Supplementary information may be requested of applicants at various points in the review process. These requests will be made via e-mail to the Principal Investigator noted on the project.

As part of the LOI review process, applicants may be requested to provide a presentation to the ESRF Management Board on the content of the proposal. Details, templates and instructions will be provided at a future date.

Throughout the process, decisions made will be final, and no appeals process will be allowed. At any phase, both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified regarding the status of their proposal.

Proposals can also be withdrawn at any time. Please email your request, in writing to

Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF) Application Process

Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF) Application Process

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Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF) Application Process

Phase 1 – Letter of Interest

Step 1: Review Applicants’ Guide
Step 2: Prepare LOI details
Step 3: Submit LOI
Step 4: LOI Review
Step 5: LOI Selection
Step 6: Applicant Notification

Phase 2 – Full Project Proposal

Step 1: Invitation to Submit Full Proposal
Step 2: Submit Full Project Proposal
Step 3: Proposal Review
Step 4: Project Selection

*ESRF reserves the right to change the application process and deadlines at its sole discretion. Any changes to the process will be communicated to applicants via e-mail and necessary accommodations for the changes provided.

Transparency and Fairness

Natural Resources Canada and the ESRF Management Board are committed to a fair and transparent process for managing the ESRF. All assessments and decisions made by Natural Resources Canada and the ESRF Management Board will be done in accordance with this commitment.

The ESRF Management Board and the ESRF Secretariat staff responsible for managing this call for LOI will not provide any specific guidance or advice on preparing a LOI or full project proposal. No meetings on the ESRF call for LOIs or call for full project proposals will be held between any applicant and ESRF Board Members or ESRF Secretariat staff involved with the project selection process.

Further, to avoid the risk of real, perceived or potential conflict of interest, members of expert technical committees who have a vested interest as a potential participant in a particular project will be required to sign a declaration regarding their interest in the project and will not be allowed to participate in the assessment of that project.

For general inquiries, the applicant can contact the ESRF Secretariat: A Frequently Ask Questions section will be posted on the website if warranted answering key questions from applicants.


Subject to the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act, all LOIs and full project proposals received by the ESRF Secretariat will be treated as confidential and will not be provided to any third party, other than technical reviewers mandated by the ESRF Management Board, without the express written consent of the project applicant (designated principal applicant in the case of multi-partner proposals).

Technical reviewers mandated by the ESRF Management Board that are employed by the Government of Canada are bound by the requirements of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act regarding the treatment of confidential information.

Technical reviewers mandated by the ESRF Management Board that are not employed by the Government of Canada will be required to enter into a Non-Disclosure Agreement before accessing the LOIs and full project proposals.

Intellectual Property

All Intellectual Property that arises in the course of a project shall vest in, or be licensed to, the recipient. The recipient will grant to Canada a non-exclusive, irrevocable, world-wide, royalty-free licence in perpetuity to use the data and information contained in reports and modify such reports and documents for non-commercial governmental purposes.

The recipient will ensure that all new information generated through the ESRF-funded research study will be made publicly available, in agreement with the agreed-upon knowledge transfer plan. Information that was generated prior to the initiation of the ESRF-funded research, or generated through other source of funding, is to remain the property of its owner who will make all decisions regarding licensing and dissemination of that information.

Prior to completion of the study and final approval by the Management Board, the results of the studies and any Intellectual Property generated during the course of the project is to be kept confidential unless explicitly authorized by the ESRF Management Board.

Transfer of Funds

Full project proposals accepted for funding consideration under the ESRF will be subject to the parties (the ESRF Secretariat and the proponent) successfully negotiating a written Funding Agreement and the Funding Agreement being approved by the ESRF Management Board.

If the proponent is a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government or one of their departments and agencies, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be negotiated instead of a Funding Agreement.

Until a written Funding Agreement or MOU is signed by both parties, no liability and no commitment or obligation exists on the part of the ESRF and Natural Resources Canada to make a financial contribution to the proposed project. As a result, any costs or expenses incurred or paid by the intended proponent prior to the execution of a written Funding Agreement or MOU by both parties are the sole responsibility of the intended proponent, and no liability exists on the part of the ESRF or Natural Resources Canada.

Contact Information

Question about the Environmental Studies Research Fund or any general inquiries regarding this research call for proposal can be directed to the ESRF Secretariat:

Appendix 1 – Eligible Expenditures

Eligible expenditures for an approved project under the ESRF must be directly related to, and necessary for, the implementation and conduct of a project as defined in the terms of the Funding Agreement or MOU, and will include:

  • salaries and benefits for employees on the payroll of the Proponent for the actual time spent by the employees on the Project;
  • professional, scientific, technical and contracting services or fees;
  • whenever the services are provided directly by the Proponent, professional, scientific or technical fees can be charged in lieu of salaries and benefits, given these fees are the ones usually charged to the Proponent’s customers.
  • reasonable travel expenditures, including meals and accommodation;
  • printing services;
  • data collection services, including processing, analysis and management;
  • licence fees and permits;
  • field testing services;
  • purchase, installation and testing of qualifying equipment, materials and products equipment and products, including diagnostic and testing tools and instruments (subject to approval by the ESRF Management Board and explicit inclusion in the Funding Agreement or MOU);
  • laboratory and field supplies and materials;
  • Federal and Provincial Taxes that are not refunded; and,
  • overhead expenditures, provided they are directly related to the conduct of the Project and can be attributed to it (limited to 15% of Total eligible expenditures).

Salaries: Salaries include wages for all personnel with direct involvement in the Project.

Labour claims must be supported by suitable records such as time sheets and records, and be held for verification at time of audit. Management personnel are required to maintain appropriate records of time devoted to the Project.

Benefits: Benefits are defined as a reasonable prorated share of expenses associated with the direct labour cost such as the employer’s portion of Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan and Employment Insurance, employee benefits such as health plan and insurance, Worker’s Compensation, sick leave and vacation. Those items which have no relationship to the Project or which have been charged on an indirect basis are non-eligible.

Materials: Materials include those consumed in carrying out the Project, including those required for monitoring activities. Only utilities consumed to operate equipment or processes are eligible and may be metered and reported separately from the total utility cost. Utilities used for buildings are not eligible.

Materials purchased and used solely for the Project are eligible. All materials shall be charged to the Project at the net price excluding GST after deducting all trade discounts and similar credits. Surplus materials shall be credited to the Project at the original purchase price.

Equipment: Equipment consists of equipment acquired or constructed exclusively for the Project that is deemed necessary by the ESRF Management Board. In order to be eligible, such equipment must be identified in the Project cost estimate. All such equipment shall be charged to the Project at the net price (excluding GST) after deducting all trade discounts and similar charges.

Sub-Contractors and Consultants: The nature of goods or services to be acquired shall be set out in the Project Proposal estimate. The amount eligible from a sub-contractor or a consultant shall be the actual contract amount.

Testing Services: Eligible testing services are those conducted by testing organizations or accredited laboratories, such as the Canadian Standards Association, Underwriters Laboratories and must be essential to the success of the Project. Testing services shall be charged at actual cost. Regulatory costs, where required may be eligible (e.g. testing to comply with Environmental Standards). All such costs should be identified in the original Project Proposal cost estimates.

Travel, Meals and Accommodation: Unless stated otherwise in the Funding Agreement between the NRCan and the Proponent, Treasury Board rates that are in effect at the time of signing the Funding Agreement shall be used in reimbursing the following expenses:

  • Travel, food and lodging costs to meet with NRCan officials.
  • Travel, food and lodging costs necessary for other Project activities, e.g. field trials and in-field monitoring at locations away from the Proponent’s usual location; Project planning and review meetings between the Proponent and its partner(s).

Overhead: With regard to Overhead expenditures, they may include:

  • Administrative support provided directly to the Project by the Proponent’s employee(s), valued on the same basis as professional staff time;
  • Routine laboratory and field equipment maintenance, based on the actual cost to the Proponent that is directly related to the Project;
  • Heat, hydro, and office operating costs (e.g. faxes, telephone), provided that they are directly related to the Project; and,
  • Overhead costs charged by universities.

Overhead expenditures will not exceed 15% of Eligible Expenditures (excluding overhead expenditures).

Non-Eligible Expenditures

  • Part of the Federal and Provincial Taxes that are refunded to the Proponent;
  • Land Costs;
  • Legal Costs;
  • All costs associated with the protection of Intellectual Property;
  • Costs incurred prior to the Funding Agreement being signed, or after the Eligible Expenditure Period end date; and,
  • In-kind contributions.