Canada is a maritime nation. We have the world's longest coastline that borders 3 oceans. We also host the largest inland waterway. Although most of us live away from the coast, we all depend on the ocean. Canadians rely on it for trade, food security, energy and employment. In other words, the ocean is a source of wealth.
The ocean is also the planet's climate regulator and a great source of oxygen. But increased human activity and carbon emissions are impacting oceans and other bodies of water. Acidification, warmer water temperatures and salinity changes are only a few examples of how the ocean's overall health is affected. These changes compromise its ability to sustain life and support human needs. Hence, we must support ocean health.
Diving in head first
With that in mind, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is proud of the development of its Ocean program. Initially developed as a Government of Canada Ocean Cluster support program, it has morphed into something bolder and broader. While supporting the success of Canada's Ocean Supercluster is still a key priority, the Ocean program is now aligned with federal mandates such as the Blue Economy Strategy led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Ocean program will support the growth of Canada's blue economy by placing equal value on ocean health and economic gain.
"There is a global imperative to focus on restoring ocean health; the survival of our species depends on it. Canada has an incredible opportunity to be a global leader in the development of technologies that can serve to restore our ocean's health, while supporting the Canadian economy. Ocean health. Ocean wealth."
The Ocean program aims to support technology development that helps advance Canada's blue economy within its 4 research themes: coastal resilience, intelligent marine assets, pollution remediation and bio assets. Some of its coastal resilience goals include the development of resilience and sustainable marine infrastructure, nature-based solutions for flood and erosion risk reduction, flood prediction and forecasting systems, and climate change impact assessment and adaptation.
For its intelligent marine assets (IMA) research theme, the Ocean program expects to help the industry improve the operational performance of marine assets with a particular focus on the shipping sector to enable maritime autonomous surface ships in Canadian waters, contributing to a zero-emissions shipping sector over the longer term. IMA will also focus on scalable technologies to increase Canada's marine renewable sector.
In terms of pollution remediation projects, the program aims to develop technologies that will extract pollutants for use in the circular economy. These activities will advance understanding on the impact, detection, transport and fate of pollutants such as plastic, to ultimately extract them from the water.
Finally, the bio assets research theme will help to advance Canada's marine biotechnology organizations with a focus on ocean sensing for health monitoring, valorization of waste products (equating to less waste and greater productivity of fish processing), and fish nutrition to ensure healthy farmed fish.
The Ocean program is also aligned with the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy and the United Nations (UN) Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainability. By working with other government departments, industry and academia, we're hoping to see the ocean on a path to recovery by the end of the program, in 2027, alongside sustainable business growth to make that happen.
Led by the Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre, the Ocean program is also supported by the Aquatic Crop Resource Development Research Centre, the Energy, Mining and Environment Research Centre, the Construction Research Centre and the Metrology Research Centre.
For more information, consult the Ocean program webpage, and stay tuned to the NRC's social media channels with #NRCOceanResearch and #OceanHealthOceanWealth to learn more about how the program supports the development of technologies to improve ocean health and ocean wealth.
The Ocean program is part of a suite of collaborative R&D initiatives bringing together researchers and facilities from across the NRC's 14 research centres with academic and industrial partners. Grant and contribution funding is provided through the NRC's National Program Office for Challenge and Cluster Support program collaborators who offer complementary expertise, including academic institutions and small and medium‑sized enterprises.