Vancouver Aquarium President and CEO, Dr. John Nightingale (far left), announces the new Coastal Ocean Research Initiative at The Vancouver Board of Trade on May 27.
Vancouver Aquarium announces new Coastal Ocean Research Institute
On May 27, Vancouver became home to B.C.’s first ocean research organization dedicated to the collaborative and comprehensive research of Western Canada’s coastal environments.
The new, multi-disciplinary Vancouver Aquarium Coastal Ocean Research Institute, announced at an event hosted by The Vancouver Board of Trade, is the first of its kind in Canada, devoted to systematically documenting the health of our coastal environments over the long-term.
The Research Institute was created to address a major gap in the understanding and management of our coastal environments. Population growth and expanding industry is affecting coastal environments in ways that are not fully understood. Although considerable research is being done on our coastal environments, the resulting data is not being collected, analyzed and communicated in any systematic way.
As such, Vancouver Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute will aim to create a baseline for how marine ecosystems are doing today and to deepen our understanding of future changes. It will focus on building a collaborative approach to harness wide-ranging, but scattered, research efforts and scientific data in order to provide scientists, academics, governments and the public with an annual set of indices describing the state of our coastal ecosystems.
This long-term initiative will provide a comprehensive, ongoing assessment of our coastal marine ecosystems, resulting in analyses that will be publically shared to inform key policy, planning and conservation decisions that will shape future uses of the coastal zone.
While there is much research and monitoring taking place along the B.C. coast, it is done by scientists and researchers from universities, federal and provincial agencies, non-profit organizations and professional firms working on impact assessments for a variety of development projects; unfortunately, their data is rarely aggregated to provide an overall “picture” of ocean health. The Vancouver Aquarium Coastal Ocean Research Institute is set up specifically to develop collaborative relationships that will enable that aggregation and analysis, and report a set, or series, of indices describing the state of key ecosystems and ecological processes on the B.C. coast.
The Aquarium is uniquely positioned to foster new collaborations needed to gather and analyze data from a network of researchers to provide a more robust, long-term assessment of our coastal marine ecosystems. With its long history of ocean conservation and recognized non-advocacy voice, the Aquarium will provide the stability, scientific independence and permanence needed for the Institute’s success.
Three current Vancouver Aquarium research programs —Marine Mammal Research Program, the recently established Ocean Pollution Research Program, and Howe Sound Research Program — will become part of the Institute, as the research they conduct directly contribute to a greater understanding of the health of our coastal ecosystems. While the Institute will have the capacity to conduct original research, it is expected that most research, data and information for the Research Institute’s core monitoring and reporting will also come from collaborating researchers and research programs.
The new Research Institute operates within the Aquarium’s overall non-profit structure, but will function independently with its own board of directors. Funding will be provided by a consortium of the Aquarium, concerned donors, sponsors and foundations; it will operate independently of any particular funding partner.
The Institute is grateful for its generous founding funding partners Ross Beaty and Rudy North, and also welcomes research partners Pacific Salmon Foundation, Hakai Research Institute and Rick Hansen Foundation.
To learn more about the Vancouver Aquarium Coastal Ocean Research Institute, visit vanaqua.org.