At Ocean Wise Conservation Association, we empower action for ocean conservation. The oceans are in crisis and there is so much to be done, but Ocean Wise is proud to say that we made a difference in 2019. Here’s how:

1. Record-breaking year for Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

It was our best year ever for Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup! More than 83,800 people volunteered their time in over 3,000 national cleanups. Founded in 1994 by staff at the Vancouver Aquarium, Ocean Wise’s GCSC has grown into a national program in partnership with WWF-Canada. More.

2. Ocean Wise Research released important Ocean Plastics findings.

Ocean Wise is home to nearly 40 researchers doing a range of work – from studying Beluga and Killer whales, to monitoring ocean ecosystems, to investigating the ocean plastic crisis. In 2019, our Plastic Lab team released ground-breaking findings about the role of home laundry in releasing trillions of plastic microfibers into the ocean each year. In the Arctic, Ocean Wise researchers sadly found microplastics in the intestines of Beluga whales. More.

3. New national partner for Ocean Wise Seafood.

Overfishing is one of the biggest threats facing our oceans. In 2019, Ocean Wise got one step closer to our vision of healthy and flourishing oceans thanks to our Sustainable Seafood Program’s new partnership with Sobeys – one of Canada’s largest grocery store chains. The new partnership enables even more Canadians to choose sustainable seafood when at the grocery store. More.

4. New OctoBus gives schools FREE transportation to ocean literacy programs.

Ocean literacy education is vitally important for youth – the leaders of tomorrow. Between 1956 and 2019, more than 3.5 million kids took part in Vancouver Aquarium/Ocean Wise education programs. That number is set to grow rapidly thanks to Ocean Wise’s new OctoBus – a donor-funded, school bus program that provides schools with FREE transportation to our ocean literacy programs. More.

5. Marine Mammal Rescue team saved nearly 120 animals.

Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue team is focused on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of animals affected by human interference. In 2019, we saved the lives of 118 animals, including three sea lions who were freed of marine plastic, a sea lion (named Archie) who was inhumanely shot by a cross bow, and a rare tropical sea turtle (named Berni) who was discovered ‘cold stunned’ far from home.

6. Ikaarvik youth released report about Indigenous Knowledge and Arctic Research.

Administered by Ocean Wise, Ikaarvik empowers Arctic youth and their communities to lead research projects that combine Indigenous Knowledge and science to address their own local priorities. In 2019, a first-of-its-kind report entitled ScIQ: Science and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangitwas released by Ikaarvik youth laying out 41 recommendations to help researchers understand how to best work with local communities.

Ikaarvik is just one of Ocean Wise’s programs in the Arctic. In addition, Ocean Wise scientists continued the study of Beluga whales and sent scientific divers to the High Arctic to conduct biodiversity surveys.

7. Funding secured to make Ocean Bridge a National Program

Ocean Wise Education’s Ocean Bridge program got a huge vote of confidence in 2019 when the Government of Canada agreed to fund a four-fold expansion of the program. Thanks to this funding increase, in 2020, Ocean Bridge will bring together 120 youth (ages 18-30), from across Canada, to form four national teams that will co-create and deliver service projects in their home communities addressing ocean health and ocean literacy. Ocean Bridgers will also take part in two expeditions in marine parks and protected areas in Canada.

8. Vancouver Aquarium welcomed almost 1 million visitors.

We believe that every visitor to the Vancouver Aquarium is a future ocean conservationist. Not only is the Vancouver Aquarium one of the most popular, and well run, attractions in Vancouver (we were the most nominated attraction at the 2019 Vancouver Tourism Awards), the Aquarium also plays a vital role in getting the general public to care about ocean issues and find a ways to contribute directly to ocean health. Point in case: in 2019, a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium inspired a Massachusetts Senator to introduce a plastic bag ban in her state! More.

9. First Ocean Wise Gala raised $459,000 to combat ocean plastic crisis.

Our first ever Ocean Wise Gala, held at the iconic Vancouver Club in November 2019, was a huge success with $459,000 raised to combat the growing ocean plastic pollution crisis. A team of top Vancouver chefs brought their A-game to wow guests with surprise edible centrepieces and a decadent sustainable seafood dinner, live auction and music. More.

In addition to being a year of successes, 2019 was also a year of transition for Ocean Wise Conservation Association. In February 2019, we welcomed our new CEO, Lasse Gustavsson (formerly with Oceana, World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace). And in November we welcomed our new EVP of Conservation Dr. Carlos Drews (formerly with The Jane Goodall Institute and World Wildlife Fund).  Stay tuned for 2020. We know we need to deliver conservation on a scale to match the significant challenges facing our oceans, and we are up the challenge.

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