UBC receives $2.5M for research into the future of Canada’s oceans

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The University of British Columbia has received $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to examine the future health and economic potential of Canada’s oceans from coast to coast to coast.

OceanCanada will initiate an interdisciplinary research collaboration between 15 Canadian universities, non-governmental organizations, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and will be led by Dr. Rashid Sumaila, UBC Professor and Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit. It was one of 14 Partnership Grants awarded nationwide this year and the only one granted to UBC.

The central objective of the OceanCanada partnership is to integrate social, cultural, economic, Aboriginal, and environmental knowledge about oceans and coasts nationally. Researchers will map the future of the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans under different policy pathways, highlighting risks and opportunities for communities and marine ecosystems. Previous research from the UBC Fisheries Centre suggests that as oceans warm, fish move to colder waters, indicating that more and more fish could move into Canada’s northern waters. Additional stressors such as ocean acidification, marine debris, and pollution create new challenges for Canadian fisheries and coastal communities. OceanCanada will foster greater knowledge and public awareness of some of these emerging issues. Researchers will work collaboratively with policymakers and residents of Canada’s coastal regions to develop a shared vision for sustainable and healthy oceans.

Fisheries, aquaculture and marine recreation sectors are important to Canada’s economy and culture. The Canadian economy remains closely tied to the oceans; industries working in, on and around the oceans employ approximately 315,000 Canadians and contribute more than $26 billion a year to the nation’s wealth. The project will be conducted over six years.


Six regional and national level working groups, representing Canada’s Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic coastal-ocean regions, will oversee OceanCanada’s activities. The following individuals will provide leadership and expertise on OceanCanada’s Scientific Committee:

Derek Armitage, Environmental and Resource Studies, Waterloo University
Nicole Ban, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria
William Cheung, Fisheries Centre, The University of British Columbia
Nancy Doubleday, Philosophy, McMaster University
Amos Hayes, Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre, Carleton University
Ian Mauro, Geography, University of Winnipeg
Rosemary Ommer, Geography, University of Victoria
Ian Perry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Philip Saunders, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University
Eric Solomon, Arctic Programs, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
Fraser Taylor, Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre, Carleton University
David VanderZwagg, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University

OceanCanada’s partners include:

The University of British Columbia
Carleton University
Dalhousie University
Ecotrust Canada
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Friends of Port Mouton Bay
Living Oceans Society
McMaster University
Saint Mary’s University
Simon Fraser University
The University of Winnipeg
University of Victoria
University of Waterloo
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
World Wildlife Fund-Canada

For more information on OceanCanada, please contact:

Dr. Rashid Sumaila
Research Director
OceanCanada Partnership
Email: r.sumaila@fisheries.ubc.ca
Telephone: 604.822.0224

Sandra Ignagni
OceanCanada Coordinator
Email: s.ignagni@fisheries.ubc.ca
Telephone: 604.822.0618