These are tough times for our planet.
In just 10,000 years, we humans have multiplied exponentially, growing from a population of one million to more than seven billion in a geological blink of an eye. By the year 2100, there could be at least 10 billion of us.
This growth is coming at a high price to the oceans that cover more than 70 per cent of the earth. Increasing levels of dissolved carbon are making them more acidic. Advances in fishing technology and bigger fishing vessels have removed 90 per cent of all large fish from our oceans. Man-made pollutants — including plastics, pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, detergents, oil, sewage and other solids — are contaminating the marine food web. And coastal development linked to human settlements, industry, aquaculture, or infrastructure is having severe impacts on nearshore ecosystems.
We must take action to protect our oceans; which is why Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre welcomes Monday’s announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the government’s new $1.5-billion Ocean Protection Plan. The Government’s commitment is unprecedented in Canada’s history, and overdue for a country with the world’s longest coastline. It includes investing in more science and habitat restoration, working with indigenous peoples, and committing to world-leading facilities and practices to improve marine transportation safety.
The announcement supports the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre’s longstanding leadership in a healthy oceans agenda for Canada. In addition to Ocean Wise, the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-Up, Ikaarvik, the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, and other groundbreaking programs, in 2014 the Aquarium announced the creation of the Coastal Ocean Research Institute (CORI) to advance ocean science.
The Research Institute’s in-house scientists already work collaboratively with governments, First Nations, businesses, donors, and non-profit organizations in several areas that align with the Government’s announcement, including:
- Protecting and restoring abundant coastal marine ecosystems, particularly related to marine mammals and issues related to prey availability, noise and contaminants as well as effectiveness of mitigation measures
- Tracking information about marine mammal presence and informing mariners
- Improving science and recovery efforts for southern resident orcas and St. Lawrence belugas
- Participating in improved spill response monitoring and planning
- Addressing the risk of oil spill through marine mammal rescue facilities
- Working in partnership with indigenous peoples
- Conducting baseline monitoring and examining cumulative effects
- Communicating coastal ocean science in clear and engaging ways
We look forward to further commitments from all parties in support of a healthy oceans agenda.
Established to measure and monitor the health of coastal ecosystems, the Coastal Ocean Research Institute produces and communicates scientific knowledge and understanding about Canada’s West Coast. Established by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, the Research Institute is grateful for its generous founding partners the Sitka Foundation and North Growth Foundation.