New Brunswick has 5,500 km of coastal shoreline, ranging in type from salt marshes and rolling sand dunes to steep, rocky cliffs. The coastal zone consists of three subzones: the nearshore area is the lowermost part and is usually submerged and less exposed to wave action; the shore area subjected to the wave action of cyclical tides with the lower foreshore experiencing the daily rise and fall of normal tides and with the backshore experiencing storm surges and seasonally high tides; the coast is the area above the line of highest tide and is affected by sea spray and occasionally during extreme storm surges. The effects of coastal erosion can be seen province-wide in seaside communities, infrastructures, parks, and wildlife habitats.
The Geological Surveys Branch (GSB) maintains a small but important Coastal Studies Program. The program’s key objective is to map and monitor erosion along the New Brunswick coast.
The GSB regularly collects information from aerial photographs and shoreline surveys to produce a coastal erosion database. Both government and the private sector consult the database when implementing such activities as dune restoration, beach nourishment, municipal land use planning, and federal port dredging.
The branch also played a lead role in developing the Coastal Areas Protection Policy for New Brunswick. Among other features, the policy designates a 30-m building setback along coastal beaches, dunes, and marshes to protect their ecological integrity.