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Canada's participation in the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance

Learn about the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA), its members, research and expeditions.

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About the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance

The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance was created in 2013 when the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation was signed by:

  • Canada
  • the U.S.
  • the European Union (E.U.)

The alliance's goal is to better understand the shared Atlantic Ocean and promote the sustainable management of its resources.

We can make long-lasting advances in understanding the ocean we share by:

  • pooling our intellectual capital and resources
  • working together on research and monitoring programs

The information our scientists collect will contribute to:

  • an increased understanding of this complex ecosystem
  • a more comprehensive suite of maps of the seabed floor
  • the sustainable management of Atlantic Ocean resources

Canadian Galway Working Group

The working group is made up of ocean science and technology community members from:

  • the private sector
  • academic institutions
  • the Government of Canada
  • the provinces and territories

All are active partners in research projects and initiatives that support the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and Canada's commitment under the Galway Statement.

The group has defined Canadian ocean science priorities which will help us:

  • predict trends
  • map the sea-floor
  • better understand ocean health

Research themes

Priority areas of cooperation were identified in the Galway Statement and adopted by the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. These include:

  • aquaculture
  • ocean literacy
  • ocean observation
  • knowledge sharing
  • marine biotechnology
  • seabed and benthic habitat mapping
  • shared access to research marine infrastructures
  • ecosystem approach to ocean health and stressors

Research groups and projects

Canada participates in several research groups and projects in support of the Galway Statement, including:

  • ClimeFish for examining climate change
  • AtlantOS for Atlantic ocean observations
  • DiscardLess for addressing discards in fisheries
  • AquaSpace for sustainable growth of aquaculture
  • INMARE for industrial applications of marine enzymes
  • ResponSEAble for encouraging interest in the Atlantic Ocean
  • SponGES Project for deep-sea sponges of the North Atlantic Ocean
  • PrimeFish for economic sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture sectors
  • Sea Change for ocean literacy and action towards healthy oceans and seas

Seabed mapping expeditions

The following expeditions detail routes, participants and research goals.

Fifth expedition: July 2016

Fifth expedition: July 2016

Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent departed Halifax on July 22, 2016, on its way to Tromsø, Norway. This was the fifth mission under the Canada-E.U.-U.S. Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.

The team conducted surveys of the North Atlantic Ocean to build on the work undertaken in July 2015. The collected seabed data will contribute to the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO).

The expedition was made up of students and early career scientists representing Canada and the U.S. They sailed on board the Canadian Coast Guard ship Louis S. St-Laurent and wrote daily web logs to chronical the mission.

Expedition participants included the:

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS)
  • Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Joint Hydrographic Center
Fourth expedition: May 2016

Fourth expedition: May 2016

A fourth seabed mapping survey took place under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance on board the research vessel (RV) Celtic Explorer, from May 11 to 21, 2016.

The expedition was led by a team of 12 Canadian and international scientists. They mapped a path of the Atlantic sea-floor between St. John's, Newfoundland, and Galway, Ireland. This built on the results of the first expedition under the Galway Statement in June 2015.

Expedition participants included:

  • the College of Charleston (U.S.)
  • the National University of Ireland
  • Memorial University (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • the Marine Institute and Geological Survey of Ireland (INFOMAR)
Third expedition: February 2016

Third expedition: February 2016

In February 2016, a seabed mapping transect took place from Pointe à Pitre, Guadaloupe, to Ponta Delgada, São Miguel. This was on board the multi-purpose research vessel L'Atalante owned by the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (in French only).

Aside from the participants from France, members of Maritime Way Scientific Ltd. from Ottawa, also joined the expedition.

Second expedition: July 2015

Second expedition: July 2015

The second expedition under the Galway Statement took place in July 2015. It explored the seabed between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Tromsø, Norway, aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent.

The team used deep-water multibeam echo sounder technology to:

  • acquire valuable oceanographic data
  • create high resolution images of the seabed
  • gather information on the physical characteristics of the sea-floor, such as:
    • depth
    • hardness
    • sediment cover

The team of scientists discovered several volcano-like features near the mid-Atlantic Ridge. The largest was mapped at 1,250 m in diameter at its base and 280 m high.

The data collected will help further our understanding of:

  • navigation
  • conservation
  • marine habitats

Expedition participants included the:

  • Marine Institute and Geological Survey of Ireland (INFOMAR)
  • U.S.'s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS)
  • Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland
First expedition: June 2015

First expedition: June 2015

The first expedition under the Galway Statement took place in June 2015 on board the Irish RV Celtic Explorer.

The vessel undertook a mapping expedition between St. John's, Newfoundland, and Galway, Ireland, in June 2015.

The international team gathered information on the physical characteristics of the sea-floor, such as:

  • water:
    • depth
    • hardness
    • roughness
  • presence of geohazards

On the Newfoundland and Labrador shelf, the international team uncovered 235 km squared of:

  • iceberg scarred seabed
  • buried sediment channels
  • ancient glacial moraine features

Expedition participants included the:

  • Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere
  • Marine Institute and Geological Survey of Ireland (INFOMAR)
  • U.S.'s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland

Galway Statement

RV Celtic Explorer

European Commission

Memorial University of Newfoundland

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