On December 5-6, 2013, Ashleen Benson and Eric Angel attended the 2020 Vision of Canada’s Oceans Dialogue, a series of presentations and open exchanges held in Vancouver, BC as observers on behalf of CFRN students.  The event was hosted by the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) in partnership with the Centre for Coastal Science and Management at Simon Fraser University. 

It was a full two days.  Here is a look back at some highlights from the various panels and presentations.

1) Canada has a good track record for creating policies for marine conservation, but falls short on implementation.

Canada has been very slow to create no take Marine Protected Areas (Isabelle Côté, Simon Fraser University). Current trends show Canada will reach the goal target of protecting 10% of our ocean space by 2080, whereas globally that target should be reached by 2020.  In contrast, California has developed the largest network of science-based Marine Protected Areas in the world (Mark Carr, UC Santa Curz).  9% of California marine waters are no take reserves.  Success was greatly helped by a strong legal mandate public-private partnerships, financial transparency, and strong links between the science advisory team and the regional stakeholder groups. 

2) Canada’s reputation for environmental protection is slipping (Isabelle Côté).

For instance, Canada recently came dead last in a ranking of 27 countries on environmental protection, part of a broader survey of OECD countries and their support for development.  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/canada-dead-last-in-oecd-ranking-for-environmental-protection/article15484134/.

3) Canada has a substantial number of research networks related to marine conservation and use.  These include CFRN (Rob Stephenson), Ocean Management Research Network (Dan Lane), Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (Hugh MacIsaac), Marine Environment Observation Prediction and Response Network (Doug Wallace), and Ocean Networks Canada (Ken Denman).

CFRN is unique in its explicit inclusion of social science and industry research partnerships. The student panel discussion highlighted a significant difference between CHONe students and CFRN students perspectives on working with industry. Specifically, CFRN has encouraged students to involve industry in all phases of their research.

4) The use of practical advice from politicians is helpful.

The CHONe meeting involved both Provincial and Federal politicians who provided tips for improving implementation of conservation policies.

Three suggestions for sustaining ocean health by doing things differently (Mark Zacharias, BC Ministry of the Environment):

  1. Focus on outcomes not outputs; ends rather than means. 
  2. Build consumers into solutions; they’re ahead of governments in areas like sustainability certification. 
  3. Rethink governance: an increasingly educated and connected citizenry wants to engage, not be told what to do.


Tip - How to get governments to agree with you (Senator David Wells).  Governments are allergic to having to mediate conflicts between groups.  If you want to effect change, come to government with the people who disagree with you.  Governments will move very quickly if they think everyone is on board.

5) Open data is an emerging theme (Student Panel Theme 4). 

There was lots of discussion around the importance of open science and data.  A call was made for publicly funded research to include a requirement that data be made publicly available, while protecting the ability of students to publish their findings.

A valuable word: horrendogram (Melanie Austen, Plymouth Marine Laboratory).  This word is used by (primarily) ecosystem modelers in the UK and Australia to describe diagrams of natural systems. Dr. Austen used it to describe the appallingly complicated European Union roles and responsibilities in marine planning.

Our thanks to Rob Stephenson, CFRN, and Laurie Wood, SFU, for making it possible for us to attend.

For more information on this event go to: http://chone.marinebiodiversity.ca/news/events/oceans-2020