Today the Honourable Tony Clement, Federal Minister of Industry, Suzanne Fortier, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Provincial Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, and Dr. Eddy Campbell, Acting President of Memorial University, announced the official launch of the NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe).
CHONe will bring together Canada’s marine science capacities and provide a baseline of information against which future changes in the oceans can be monitored and understood. The network addresses a pressing need for scientific data to ensure proper conservation and the sustainable use of Canada’s ocean resources.
“Prime Minister Harper and our government understand that advances in research and development are essential to strengthen the competitiveness of Canada's economy,” said Minister Clement. “As a result, the federal government is focusing research in priority areas, which include environmental science and technologies being addressed by CHONe.”
“The oceans are one of our important research frontiers,” added Dr. Fortier. “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 and led by biological oceanographer Dr. Paul Snelgrove, CHONe brings together Canada’s top marine researchers from 15 universities from St. John’s to Victoria. It is a large, interdisciplinary research network which includes Fisheries and Oceans Canada and seven other government laboratories, and 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 involves 65 researchers from 15 universities and multiple federal research labs across Canada. It is focused on three themes: Marine Biodiversity, Ecosystem Function and Population Connectivity. Much of this 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, as well as 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. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, through the Department of
Innovation, Trade and Rural Development 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.