Using science to inform policy towards sustainable ocean use

Photo credit: Evan Edinger

Photo credit: Evan Edinger

Photo credit: Ropos, Submitted by Verena Tunnicliffe

Photo credit: Ropos, Submitted by Verena Tunnicliffe

Sustainable management of Canada’s oceans requires Canadians to manage our activities (e.g. fishing, aquaculture, resource extraction, shipping, recreation, etc.) in a way that minimizes harm to the environment and its ecosystems, and ensures ours and the planet’s well-being. This requires a national strategy, and the coordination and collaboration among stakeholders (e.g. scientists, government, industry, NGOs and the public) to seek the appropriate balance between conservation and use of the ocean. To find this balance, ecological, economic and social information, as well as options and constraints must be included in the decision-making process. It also requires us to accept social responsibility for our ocean use, and demonstrate leadership in the decision-making of environmental protection, rather than focusing on short-term profits. By preserving Canada’s heritage, we will ensure the long-term socio-economic benefit of our oceans resources.

 

Canada has a history of being a international leader in ocean stewardship and science. A new expert panel report, by the Council of Canadian Academies, found there was no single organization responsible for managing ocean research in Canada.  Consequently, scientists face many challenges in coordinating activities and pooling resources. Canada needs a national strategy for ocean science in Canada. Ocean research and innovation need to be coordinated nationally among the different organizations and stakeholders in the public and private sectors. Importantly more scientific information is needed on Canada’s oceans.

 

Photo credit: ROPOS, Submitted by Maeva Gauthier

Photo credit: ROPOS, Submitted by Maeva Gauthier

The threat to the oceans around us is not an isolated concern to Canada. Our oceans are interconnected: marine species migrate between countries; ocean currents transport energy, nutrients, debris and contaminants, globally; atmosphere-ocean interactions and feedback mechanisms regulate the global climate. Our oceans provide us with food, resources and energy, transport our goods, and are important to ours and the planet’s health. We need ocean science research, technologies and innovation to protect and use our oceans, effectively.

 

How can Canada improve on ensuring sustainable oceans? 

Historically, Canada has developed ambitious objectives for sustainable oceans, but like many nations we struggle to actually attain those goals.