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New research network to focus on health of oceans


 

St John’s, NL – A new network that was launched today will bring together 65 marine researchers from across Canada. The NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) will be led by a Memorial University biological oceanographer Dr Paul Snelgrove.

The network is working with fishermen to evaluate how to improve sustainability of marine resources through strategies such as marine protected areas. That is just one of the projects the cross-Canada network will be working on, ensuring that the policy decisions in Canada will be successful at sustaining Canada’s marine populations.

“The oceans are one of our important research frontiers,” said Dr Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). “This network has taken on an ambitious research agenda that will lead to results such as creating a marine biodiversity database, training more marine scientists and raising public awareness of the importance of Canada’s oceans.”

Headquartered at Memorial University, CHONe brings together 65 of Canada’s top marine researchers from 15 universities, from St. John’s to Victoria. It is a large, interdisciplinary research network that also includes seven government laboratories and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The network is aimed at ensuring sustainable management of the country’s ocean biodiversity resources.

“Three oceans form a rim around this country,” explained Dr Snelgrove. “It’s the longest coastline in the world and researchers are scattered across a very large area. CHONe allows us to work together no matter where we are. A diverse set of ideas and approaches, like the ones we’ll develop here, means better research results and more informed policy decisions.”

CHONe is focused on three themes: marine biodiversity, ecosystem function, and population connectivity. Much of the research is focused on improved management of living marine resources including key commercial species such as lobster and cod, and on developing tools to enhance sustainable development of the oceans by marine industries such as oil and gas, and fishing.

NSERC is providing $5 million in funding over five years to CHONe, with Fisheries and Oceans Canada adding $1.9 million in in-kind contributions. Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial government is also supporting the network with a contribution of more than $1 million from its industrial research and innovation fund. An additional $700,000 in cash and in-kind contributions has been secured from Memorial University, with other government and private sector partners contributing another $600,000 in in-kind support.