- This year's Canada Ocean Lecture "Collaboration and Communication: Two Keys to Our Ocean’s Future" presented by Dr. John Nightingale, President and CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Centre.Canada is a very large country with a very modest population. As a result, the tax base available for the various government uses is also small, especially when spread across this vast land. No matter how anyone feels about the ideology of different government agencies, when it comes to ocean science, the fact remains that government cannot do it all, and that situation is getting worse. It is time for some innovation – time to find different models to expand the research, policy development and management of our oceans.This presentation will argue that the two keys to getting what everyone in the ocean science sector wants - more research, the development of better management tools, and more directed policies - are working differently through collaboration, and greatly improving public understanding through new kinds of communications efforts.
- Our oceans cover >70% of the earth, and 97% of the earth's water is ocean water. As Canadians, we are endowed with the longest coastline in the world. Many of us live along the coast, and use the ocean regularly for recreation, transportation, food, medical product, etc. Even those not living on the ocean are connected to the ocean (and in a surprising, and less-than obvious way) via the toilet.
- How about..
- Many of us know our coastlines and our oceans can be beautiful and inspirational, filled with lots of interesting and intriguing animals. However, many people never get to see these animals or ecosystems living below the ocean's surface. Many scientist forget this when communicating with the public.
Our oceans are deep and hold a lot of water. 97% of all water on earth is ocean or saltwater – only 3% is freshwater and 50% of that is frozen in glaciers, snow and ice. They are deep – the average depth is 14,000 feet or 4.3 kilometers. Our oceans directly interact with and influence our climate and our weather. Those interactions are changing – mostly due to our warming atmosphere. A warmer climate influences the cycle of water evaporation. The changes in atmosphere and ocean heat are making our weather increasingly unpredictable.
- The world is changing, reaching a tipping point...
If oxygen production in the ocean ceased, oxygen we breathe in the atmosphere would decrease by more than 50%. Try only taking one breath for every 2 breaths. That’s what we would be faced with if the tiny plant plankton floating around in earth’s oceans didn't produce 60-70% of the oxygen we breathe. Our oceans are the lungs of the planet.
In addition to providing our seafood, ocean fisheries provide essential protein to over a billion people. All in all, we humans consume about 130 million tons of seafood – and we are fishing at a rate that is not sustainable.
However, Canada is a large country, with a long coastline, lots of water, and a small population, just over 35 million. Consequently, total tax base resources at all levels of government is only ~$50, 000 per km^2.
- Limited resources for ocean science...
- Need to think about working with people or groups we'd normally not think of, e.g. natural scientists working with social scientists, or working with industry or innovators....
- So why aren't more of us working together? What's holding us back? Maybe ocean stakeholders need find common ground - what we agree on and disagree on.