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Canada and the Ocean Decade


Good morning everyone. I'm joining you from Mi'kma'ki, the tradional unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq people.

Thank you for joining me today for Canada's launch of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The world's oceans are facing many challenges, but I am encouraged by the promise of a decade of international action.

The Ocean Decade is an opportunity for marine nations to work together to turn the tide on ocean health by using science to tackle the many challenges facing our marine environments.

It will help us create the future we want for our oceans and build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working together we will improve our understanding of ocean conditions, better understand and predict consequences of ocean changes and better inform the ways we can lessen these impacts.

All of this will support a more sustainable development of our blue economy.

The problems facing our oceans are global and therefore our solutions must be as well.

By working together to foster international cooperation, share scientific research and create more innovative technologies, the world will be better positioned to grow its blue economies.

Only by working together can we turn the world's Sustainable Development Goals into reality by 2030.

As a world leader in ocean science, Canada is already addressing major ocean issues in real, measurable and meaningful ways.

Whether it's our marine biodiversity achievements, our efforts to combat the effects of climate change or our adoption of the Ocean Plastics Charter, Canada will continue to work with our partners to share knowledge and take coordinated action.

That's how we can best support ocean innovation in prosperous, environmentally sustainable and socially responsible ways.

We are also developing a national, sustainable Blue Economy Strategy that will help grow Canada's marine sectors and create stronger protection, more production and greater prosperity oceans and Coastal communities

During the Ocean Decade, Canada will support the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and other partners to advance ocean science and help build bridges across disciplines that connect people to this critical work.

To help kick off the decade of ocean science, I am pleased to release the National State of the Oceans Report: “Canada's Oceans Now, 2020”.

This report provides a national overview on the status and trends affecting the physical environment, species and food webs in our marine ecosystems. It's the third report in the State of the Ocean series, following the Atlantic and Arctic reports which were released in 2019 and 2020.

The Ocean Decade is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It will shine a spotlight on the importance of ocean science and sectors and how our global ocean nations can work together to grow a stronger, more sustainable, global blue economy.

I look forward to your participation in the Ocean Decade. Together, we can make lasting contributions to the sustainable ocean that leaves a legacy far beyond our borders and for generations to come.

Thank you.

Canada is a proud supporter of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade). Fisheries and Oceans Canada works with the Canadian ocean community to advance Ocean Decade efforts.

On November 27, 2018, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard offered Canada’s support for the Ocean Decade, announcing an investment of up to $9.5 million. This funding complements Canada’s commitments to other international ocean science efforts.

Working together

Representation of the ecosystem in place to support the development of a Canadian contribution to the Decade

Representation of the ecosystem in place to support the development of a Canadian contribution to the Ocean Decade with the Community of Champions, the Early Career Ocean Professionals Canada, the Government of Canada Ocean Decade Committees and the DFO’s Ocean Decade Office at the forefront and working with the broader Canadian Ocean Community, the Oceans Research in Canada Alliance (ORCA) and the Global Stakeholder Forum established by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

Our Ocean Decade Office is engaging the Canadian ocean science community and building a strong contribution to the Ocean Decade. Working with the Ocean Decade Community of Champions, Canadian Node of the Global Early Career Ocean Professionals and the Oceans Research in Canada Alliance is an important part of this collective effort.

Engagement in the Ocean Decade aligns with Canada’s plans to advance its Blue Economy Strategy and our commitments under the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. Our Ocean Decade efforts also contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other commitments such as:

Canada’s Ocean Decade Community of Champions

This community of champions is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder national platform to mobilize the Canadian ocean community and foster innovative and transformative science-based actions.

A healthy and resilient ocean – Paul Snelgrove

Head and shoulders shot of Paul Snelgrove.
Dr. Snelgrove.

Dr. Snelgrove is a Professor of Ocean Sciences and Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. From 2008-2021, he led the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, a national research network that developed new tools and approaches to support sustainable oceans. From 2003-2013, Dr. Snelgrove held a Canada Research Chair in Boreal and Cold Ocean Systems, and prior to that, an NSERC Industrial Chair in Fisheries Conservation. He led the synthesis of the International Census of Marine Life research program, where he was a member of the program’s Scientific Steering Committee. Over 350,000 people have viewed his TED Global talk on that program. He frequently participates in workshops and conferences around the world as an invited speaker. In 2013, he was awarded the Timothy Parsons Medal for Excellence in Marine Sciences in Canada and, in 2020, he was appointed Departmental Science Advisor to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. He also currently plays the role of Associate Scientific Director of the Ocean Frontier Institute, which gathers researchers in Atlantic Canada and beyond to advance safe and sustainable ocean objectives. His research focuses on sustainability of biodiversity and functioning of seafloor ecosystems.

A productive ocean – Kent Smedbol

Head and shoulders shot of Kent Smedbol with water and grass in the background.
Dr. Kent Smedbol. © S.J. Smedbol.

Dr. Kent Smedbol is the Senior Director of Collaborative Lobster Science, at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Kent received a PhD in Biology in 1999 from Memorial University of Newfoundland and held an NSERC Post-doctoral Fellowship from 2000-2001 in the Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University. He then joined DFO, Maritimes Region as a Research Scientist at the St. Andrews Biological Station (SABS) to support implementation of the Species at Risk Act. Kent spent the next 10 years at SABS leading research projects focused on threat assessment and identification of Critical Habitat for several species, with major effort directed at informing recovery planning for the North Atlantic Right Whale. In 2012, Kent started the next phase in his career with a move to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where he led several regional divisions focused on fish habitat, oceanography and fisheries science, and his most recent position was Manager of the Population Ecology Division in the Science Sector. In 2021, he was asked to assume a new role: to develop and launch the Lobster Science Partnership Roundtable, a science network comprising First Nations and Indigenous groups, commercial lobster fishing associations, academics and other experts from Atlantic Canada and Québec. The goals of the Roundtable are to establish a new virtual network to complement current and create new collaborative science on lobster, and to foster development of science research projects to address knowledge gaps in lobster biology and ecology.

A predicted ocean – Tula Foundation

Tula Foundation logo.
©Tula Foundation.

The Tula Foundation is an independent charitable foundation that was established in British Columbia in 2001. Since its inception, Tula has built strong expertise in ocean science, data management, and communications across a range of divisions, including the Hakai Institute, Hakai Media, and the Quadra Centre for Coastal Dialogue. Tula's independence allows it to work seamlessly with universities, governments, First Nations, non-profit organizations, and industry to tackle important issues. In addition to working across Canada as a Decade Champion, the Foundation is supporting other national initiatives, including as a founding member and funder of the Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System (CIOOS). Working with partners across Canada to understand the present, and making those data available to all, will bring us one step closer to the ocean we want.

We are deeply motivated to bring our expertise and experience to the UN Ocean Decade.

Eric Peterson, co-founder and director of the Tula Foundation

Contact the Tula Foundation for more information.

A safe ocean – Jackie Dawson

Head and shoulders shot of Jackie Dawson with blue sky and trees in the background.
Dr. Jackie Dawson.

Dr. Jackie Dawson is a Canada Research Chair Full Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics at the University of Ottawa and is currently acting as a Scientific Director of the Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence, ArcticNet. She is an Applied Scientist working on the human and policy dimensions of environmental change in ocean and coastal regions and is considered an expert in Arctic shipping, Arctic tourism and Arctic oceans governance. She has served on 2 Canadian Council of Academies’ Expert Panels, is an elected member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada and is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

She led the drafting of the 2018 G7 science statement focused on Arctic oceans and resilient communities. She is the lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, and she recently won the prestigious 2020 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Impact Connection award and 2021 Governor Generals Innovation award.

An accessible ocean – Interdisciplinary Centre for the Development of Ocean Mapping (CIDCO)

Guillaume Labbé-Morissette, Director of Research and Development at CIDCO, on a vessel going out to see on a day with blue skies and shiny, calm blue water.
Guillaume Labbé-Morissette, Director of Research and Development at CIDCO. ©CIDCO.

The Interdisciplinary Centre for the Development of Ocean Mapping (CIDCO) is a research center specialized in marine geomatics, based in Rimouski, Québec. A unique independent research center, CIDCO is entirely dedicated to the development of advanced technologies for the acquisition, management and representation of marine spatial data. As an initiator of research and development projects for the entire ocean community, CIDCO acts as an agent of sustainable development through innovative projects with accessible science principles, free software and open data.

As a founding member of the Canadian Coastal Ocean Mapping Research and Education Network (COMREN) and an expert on International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) committees, CIDCO is a partner of choice for basic and applied research with graduate students in hydrography and marine geomatics. Its team of experts trains hydrographers and hydrospatial scientists from all over the world through its IHO Category B certified training program.

Contact CIDCO for more information.

An inspiring and engaging ocean - Lisa (Diz) Glithero

Head, hands and shoulders shot of Lisa (Diz) Glithero with her hands half raised.
Dr. Diz Glithero. © Martin Lipman.

Dr. Diz Glithero’s professional work as an interdisciplinary educator, social science researcher, public speaker and project leader specializes in engaging youth, educators, organizations and communities in ocean, climate, sustainability learning and civic engagement. From 2006 to 2016, Diz served as an active member in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. As a consultant, Diz has led several community and national projects. In 2017, Diz served as the Education Lead for Canada C3, a Canada 150 Signature Initiative that involved a 150-day journey by ship from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage.

Since 2018, Diz has served as the National Lead of the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition, leading the Understanding Ocean Literacy in Canada study (2019-2020) and co-authoring Land, Water, Ocean, Us: A Canadian Ocean Literacy Strategy (March 2021). Internationally, Diz serves as a Steering Committee member of the IOC-UNESCO-led Ocean Literacy With All Programme; the Canadian delegate on the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance’s Ocean Citizen Awareness and Literacy Working Group; and a Governance Board member of the All-Atlantic Blue Schools Network. Diz’s work has been honoured with an International Women of the Earth Award by the Yves Rocher Foundation (2015), a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada (2016), the Alex Trebek Medal for Geographical Literacy from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (2020) and a Mitacs Awards for Outstanding Innovation in Research (2021).

Canadian Node of the Global Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOPs) Programme

Diving photo of a diver in a kelp forest with a green and sunlit ocean background.
© Andrew McCurdy.

The Ocean Decade Early Career Ocean Professional (ECOPs) network is a global program that aims to elevate and strengthen the diverse perspectives of new generations of ocean professionals through networking and professional development opportunities under the Ocean Decade framework. A Canadian Node of this global network has been established and is currently developing its network of members and Canadian partner organizations that will provide support and assist in the identification of opportunities for ECOPs under the Ocean Decade. If interested, please visit the ECOP website for more information and to learn how to get involved!

Oceans Research in Canada Alliance (ORCA)

ORCA bilingual logo with tagline 'Oceans Research in Canada Alliance' placed on the foreground of images of Canada's three coasts.
© Oceans Research in Canada Alliance (ORCA)

Established in 2016, the Oceans Research in Canada Alliance (ORCA) brings together Canada's ocean science and technology community to share knowledge and work collaboratively to increase our understanding of the oceans and advance technology and innovation. ORCA plays a critical role in advancing Canada’s contribution to the Ocean Decade.

If interested in learning more about ORCA or becoming a member, please visit the ORCA webpage or email the ORCA Secretariat.

DFO Ocean Decade office

The Ocean Decade office within Fisheries and Oceans Canada is a small but passionate team of employees who are eager to collaborate with the Canadian ocean community and our international partners to:

Contact us

If you have any questions, suggestions or ideas, we would love to hear from you!

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