Ocean Science in Canada: Meeting the Challenge, Seizing the Opportunity

The universal challenges facing the ocean today demand the integration of multidisciplinary knowledge and coordination across traditional boundaries. While Canada is recognized for its excellence in ocean research and leading role in international research collaboration, [i] a comprehensive understanding of national capacity to address future questions of ocean science is essential.

Recognizing the importance of ocean science, the Canadian Consortium of Ocean Research Universities (CCORU) asked the Council of Canadian Academies to undertake an expert assessment of the state of ocean science in Canada, focusing on future opportunities and challenges for Canada and its coasts. This evidence-based assessment follows on the Council’s priority setting exercise and expert workshop report, 40 Priority Research Questions for Ocean Science in Canada.

The major findings from Ocean Science in Canada: Meeting the Challenge, Seizing the Opportunity:

  • Canada ranks among the top countries in output and impact of ocean science papers but this position is at risk.
  • Canada has several world-class systems for ocean observation and monitoring; however, challenges exist in achieving geographical coverage and integration of data management.
  • Canada has a substantial but aging research fleet.
  • Although funding for ocean science in Canadian universities is increasing, trends in total funding are unclear.
  • The state of human capacity in ocean science cannot be determined because of data limitations.


What are Canada’s needs and capacities with regard to the major research questions in ocean science that would enable it to address Canadian ocean issues and issues relating to Canada’s coasts and enhance its leading role as an international partner in ocean science?

Report and related products:

*The funding data considered by the panel, and search terms used for bibliometric analysis, are available upon request.

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on Canadian Ocean Science is chaired by Dr. David Strangway O.C., FRSC, former President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on Canadian Ocean Science page.

For additional information or media inquiries, please contact:

Samantha Rae-Ayoub, Senior Manager, Publishing and Planning, at 613-567-5000 ext. 256 or samantha.rae@scienceadvice.ca

  • Listen to a webinar on the report, hosted by the Science Media Centre of Canada.


[i] (Coward et al., 2000; Charles, 2001; for other examples of Canadian leadership and contributions, see: de Wit & Muir, 2010; AMAP, 2011; Greenan & Klymak, 2011; Picard-Aitken et al., 2011)

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