Conservation Strategies in Canada's Changing Oceans

Lay Summary 

Canada's oceans add immensely to our economy, health, and culture. Nonetheless, increasing pressures on ocean resources point to a need to enhance ocean sustainability and understand how different activities will change marine living resources. The NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe I 2008-2014) partnered academia and government (predominantly Fisheries and Oceans Canada-DFO) to develop tools to aid in assessing ocean diversity and ocean change. NSERC CHONe II will apply that knowledge to assist our partners in managing sustainable ocean use. We will help to achieve key scientific and conservation objectives outlined in Canada's Ocean Act and support activities under the recently established National Conservation Plan. Specifically, we will continue to partner with DFO and add new partners interested in sustainable ocean development to enhance and provide guidance on the efficacy of specific management interventions such as Marine Protected Areas, and to understand the efficacy of these strategies given multiple drivers of change across various ecosystem states. We will develop strategies to evaluate (status indicators) tangible results of conservation efforts and optimize (planning strategies) those interventions, and to assess how different pressures influence biological response, including delivery of key ecosystem functions and services that help sustain life. Although we can often predict how individual pressures such as pollution influence marine diversity few data exist to test cumulative impacts of multiple pressures. Successful application of management strategies hinges upon understanding these drivers.


Specific deliverables include:

  1. identification of ecological characteristics that define the resilience and vulnerability of different marine ecosystems in the context of management actions;
  2. indicators and effective sampling designs for evaluating status and drivers of change, as well as efficacy of management actions; 
  3. comparison of different management actions given multiple and often cumulative stressors and;
  4. a repository for coastal ecological data. We will complete this research in strategic geographic locations to provide new understanding with applicability elsewhere.


This project involves a team of 38 researchers, of which a full list can be found here.


Adapted from:

Ocean Sciences
NSERC - Strategic Network Grants Program
Newfoundland and Labrador
Ocean Sciences
Start date 
1 Jan 2014
End date 
31 Dec 2021
Partner Organization 
Ecology Action Center
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Institut Nordique de Recherche en Environnement et en Santé au Travail
World Wildlife Fund Canada