We can help fragile marine species and ecosystems recover and thrive
Oceans are vital to human survival and contribute to our prosperity and quality of life. They produce more than half the world’s oxygen and are the largest carbon sink. And they offer yet unknown potential for medical discoveries.
But we know more about Mars than the immense scope of ocean life here on Earth. We’ve only explored about five per cent of the underwater world. Less than a half-century ago, no one imagined the multitude of species that could live around deep-sea hydrothermal vents.
Oceans cover 71 per cent of Earth’s surface and hold 99 per cent of its biosphere. We scarcely understand them, so we better pay closer attention to what we do with them.
Scott Wallace, senior research scientist
Canada’s fascinating, surprising and diverse oceans
Swaying sea grasses, massive Chinook salmon, leaping orcas, treacherous icebergs, teeming estuaries, mysterious glass sponge reefs, colourful nudibranchs, spawning herring, bubbling humpback whales, blooms of plankton, tufted puffins, steaming hydrothermal vents… the list of wonders found in Canada’s marine ecosystems could stretch on forever.
With the longest coastline in the world, Canada holds a global responsibility to steward its vast marine environment.
A drop of sea water typically contains millions of viruses and bacteria.
Canada’s coastal waters are home to hydrothermal vents, glass sponge reefs, coral, blue whales, blue angel sea slugs and ‘electric’ torpedo rays.
Canada has the world’s longest coastline and is one of only two countries that borders three oceans. (The other is Russia.)
Bringing together sound science and public education, we work to protect and restore coastal ecosystems.
Orca and Chinook
Orcas have sophisticated social structures, varied feeding strategies and unique dialects. The Salish Sea, next to Vancouver, B.C., is home to the iconic — and endangered — southern resident orcas. Their poor status is directly linked to the scarcity of Chinook salmon, their diet staple.
Decisive and strong policies are needed for these two interdependent species to survive and thrive in the face of climate change, industrial development, ocean acidification and invasive species.Learn more
With proper management, fisheries can provide sustainable livelihoods within the bounds of the ecosystems that support them. Canada’s fisheries record is mixed. Some stocks are well managed. Others are in deep trouble.
Canada is slowly transitioning its fisheries toward protecting the ecosystem as the priority. But support for sustainable seafood producers is hampered by poor labelling and traceability requirements. Proper seafood labelling has broad public support and technology exists to accurately trace fish from catch to cashier. The federal government needs to improve legislation and regulations to bring the industry into the 21st century.Learn more
Protecting coastal waters
International co-operation for greater ocean protection marks a growing shift in the mainstream perception of the seas from a resource storehouse and dumping ground for wastes to a source of life. Despite the historical damage, science suggests we can achieve substantial recovery of the abundance, structure and function of marine life and strengthen the services oceans provide within 30 years. We can turn the oceans around. It makes sense for the economy, for human well-being and for the environment.Learn more
Open net-pen fish farms pose serious risks to wild salmon. Decades of research show that these farms expose migrating wild salmon forced to navigate past them to parasites and disease. Foundation staff advocate for farms to be moved away from areas near wild salmon migration routes and support Indigenous nations’ rights to decide activities allowed on their lands and in their waters.Learn more
Salish Sea orcas and Chinook nearly absent this season
Sightings of the iconic southern resident orcas have been few and far between for the second year in a row. Just as last year, the whales seem to be mostly staying out of the Salish Sea. Is this the new normal?
Senior Science and Policy Analyst
Canada’s high-stakes herring fishery gamble
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is gambling with a public resource when it comes to herring fishery management. Herring populations are so important yet so variable that managing them in a conventional way is too risky.
Senior Research Scientist
The mighty Fraser River and its once abundant salmon are on the edge
Fraser River Chinook salmon are declining rapidly. To safeguard them, the federal government must work with Indigenous communities and stakeholders to create and implement emergency recovery plans. The well-being of our communities, as well as many species in the food chain, depend on it.
Senior Science and Policy Analyst
Science and learning centre
Wild Works Best: Salmon hatcheries are no silver bullet for rebuilding fish populations
Pacific salmon are in trouble. Unfortunately, salmon hatcheries are an expensive fix that can make the problem worse. Science shows hatchery fish increase the risks of disease and parasites in wild salmon. The hatchery facilities themselves can degrade wild salmon habitat through blocked passages or water withdrawals. As important as these direct impacts are, the genetic and competition issues are of greatest concern.
Meeting International Standards: Improvements for Canada’s Marine Refuges
More than half of Canada’s marine refuges, a form of marine protected area in Canada, do not meet international standards. Weak standards allow many harmful industrial practices to harm fish, biodiversity and marine habitat.
Charting Coastal Currents: Canada’s Pacific Communities Talk Climate, Culture, Oceans and the Future
This report highlights the concerns and hopes of coastal British Columbians, gathered during a 2015 tour of the traditional territories of 12 First Nations.