Canada gives $2.7 million boost for Commonwealth Blue Charter

New funding from the Government of Canada will help protect marine health and promote good ocean governance, aligned with the Commonwealth Blue Charter’s action group on ocean observation.

The Commonwealth Blue Charter is an agreement made by the 53 member states to actively co-operate to solve ocean-related problems and achieve sustainable ocean development.

As one of world’s largest maritime nations, Canada champions one of nine ‘action groups’ that take the lead in rallying member countries and coordinating joint actions around a range of pressing ocean issues.

This week, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Jonathan Wilkinson announced a tranche of $2.7 million to advance ocean observation through innovation and development, and to promote the sharing of data, knowledge and best practices amongst Commonwealth countries. Better access to information will ensure decisions, products and services are based in ocean science.

Mr Wilkinson said: “Our government is committed to making our waters cleaner, safer and healthier for now and future generations. This investment will allow for continued innovation while working closely with our Commonwealth partners to share our ocean knowledge and make it accessible.

“Along with our focus on improving ocean data, we are committed to making gender equality and youth representation in the ocean sciences a priority. We continue to work with our Commonwealth partners and scientists of all backgrounds to further our knowledge of the ocean and how to protect it.”

Commonwealth Head of Oceans and Natural Resources, Nicholas Hardman-Mountford added that ocean observations are critical to understanding its impacts on people, communities and ecosystems.

The action group will develop strategies to build ocean literacy and inclusiveness – raising awareness about ocean issues, while engaging different sections of society, including marginalised groups. It aims to increase opportunities for women and youth in all disciplines, including science.

Dr Hardman-Mountford said: “Ocean observations allow countries to collect data, track trends, make new discoveries, and take science-backed policy decisions, which are all indispensable to achieving sustainable ocean governance.”

The funding announcement follows the first meeting of the action group in Ottawa, Ontario in May. Members outlined priorities and an action plan, and agreed to hold annual meetings to review progress on the various initiatives planned.

Canada convenes kick-off meeting as Blue Charter champion on ocean observation

Members of the Commonwealth action group on ocean observation gathered in Ottawa, Canada this week to launch a strategy to advance ocean observation opportunities. The meeting also tackled youth and gender issues in ocean science.

Chaired by Canada, the action group is one of nine under the Commonwealth Blue Charter – an agreement made by all 53 member countries to actively co-operate to solve ocean-related problems and achieve sustainable ocean development.

Keith Lennon, Director of Ocean and Climate Change Science for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said: “Canada is proud to be the Commonwealth Blue Charter Champion on ocean observations and welcomes its role as an ocean leader, recognised around the world for its expertise in ocean science, sustainable management and emergency response.

“Effective ocean management depends on observations of the ocean, much of which is generated by existing national or regional ocean observing systems and networks.

“Sustained observation in both coasts and open ocean informs decision-making in areas such as coastal development and protection, climate change adaptation, fisheries and agriculture, and disaster risk reduction.”

He added the action group plans to target opportunities to increase the innovation, development, and deployment of ocean observational technologies. It will also focus on enhancing access to key data, knowledge, and best practices, as well information exchange amongst countries.

Commonwealth Head of Oceans and Natural Resources Nicholas Hardman-Mountford said: “The ocean is being subjected to a huge range of human pressures, including climate change, while new areas of the ocean are being opened to exploitation.

“Commonwealth countries have made it clear through the Blue Charter that they are committed to taking action to ensure the ocean and its resources are managed in a sustainable manner.”

The action group will work in partnership with local, indigenous, small island, and remote coastal communities. Members will also engage the private sector, international organisations and the public to assess needs, policy gaps and solutions. Gender equality is a priority for all initiatives.

The two-day meeting will finalise the action group’s terms of reference and outline concrete next steps.