Oceans worldwide are changing with clear evidence of significant ecological changes in the oceans that include warmer ocean temperatures, declining extent and thickness of sea ice, ocean acidification as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the ocean, oxygen depletion, food web changes, and declines in multiple commercial fish stocks.
Maintaining healthy oceans requires effective strategies for conservation and sustainable use based on strong science. These important objectives will require new research that pushes the boundaries of current knowledge of marine ecosystems.
Oceans change in response to natural and human stressors that threaten marine biodiversity and ocean health. Diversity of ocean life from genes to species to ecosystems represents an irreplaceable natural heritage crucial to human and Earth’s well-being and links closely to sustainable use of ocean resources. Oceans provide 95% of Earth’s liveable environment, host the greatest breadth of species diversity, produce about half of the oxygen we breathe, provide significant food resources, support diverse industries, and regulate climate.
Maintaining healthy oceans requires effective conservation and sustainable use strategies based on strong science.
Canadians recognize the value of ocean ecosystems, as demonstrated by legislation such as the Oceans Act. Fishers and other stakeholders share concerns about how changing oceans will alter their livelihoods for example, avoiding catastrophic collapses such as those that led to the cod moratorium in 1992. Pollution and now acidification and ocean warming have moved from scientific journals into popular media, and locally into town hall discussions among fishers groups and the general public.
In short, stakeholders and the general public seek conservation actions that achieve real benefits that help offset human pressures on ocean ecosystems. They favour ocean policy and management actions that promote sustainable development and economic activity that will last for future generations over short-term activities that degrade the environment and limit future potential. This sort of policy development requires strong scientific advice that integrates social science to translate that advice to stakeholders and policy makers, a strategy that CHONe II fully embraces.
CHONe II’s research program addresses two broad, interlinked questions:
- What ecosystem characteristics define the capacity of Canada’s oceans to recover or respond to management strategies such as networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), spatial closures, or restoration, and;
- Can we understand and quantify how key stressors, including cumulative impacts, alter marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services in high use environments?
- To understand ecosystem characteristics that define the resilience and capacity of Canada’s oceans to recover or respond to management strategies such as networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), spatial closures, or restoration;
- To understand how key stressors, including cumulative impacts, alter marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services in high use environments.
In order to achieve these objectives, CHONe II researchers and students are involved in 20 projects which fall under two themes.