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Reaching Out

Providing science advice

Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) scientists want to provide biodiversity science advice to support sustainable oceans for science-based policies, management, and conservation decisions in Canada’s three oceans. Noting that members of parliament represent the front lines of policy making in Canada, CHONe researchers and students reached out to their members of parliament during CHONe’s 4th Annual Meeting held in Ottawa on October 24-27, 2012. These researchers and students met with eight members of parliament to highlight some of the key findings and importance of their research, and the importance of ocean health to Canadians. These oceans scientists offered to provide expertise and information to their members of parliament in order to facilitate science-based decisions.

Most members of parliament were receptive to CHONe scientists offer to provide scientific expertise on Canada’s three oceans. Some members of parliament requested information on topics that included:

  • Closed-containment aquaculture
  • Oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
  • Evidence that proper management helps the economy of coastal communities
  • Fisheries
  • Shark finning
  • “Hook Studies” to be brought up in session
  • Navigable waters and: (1) whether we should care for smaller streams (i.e. non-navigable) and (2) whether they should fall under federal or provincial jurisdiction.
  • Issues being discussing in session

The east coast fisheries critic was interested in ideas about how to rebuild DFO science capacity after all the recent scientific cutbacks. While the opposition members of parliament wanted to be kept up to date on the latest ocean science, they were especially interested in science that can be used to influence policy because they have limited access to government scientists. With the power of a network, these members of parliament will be able access a wealth of knowledgeable ocean scientists.

Four success stories arise from these meetings (1) Fin Donelly (MP New Westminster-Coquitlam-Portmoody BC) and Elizabeth May (MP Saanich-Gulf  BC) suggested CHONe make a presentation to the All Party Ocean Caucus in early February; (2) Guy Caron (MP Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques) invited Philippe Archambault to participate in a committee to evaluate the monetary and societal impact of budget cuts on the University education and scientific capacity of Canada; and (3) Anna Metaxas was invited by Geoff Regan to participate in round table discussions in Halifax requiring input from a marine scientist; (4) Paul Snelgrove and student Ryan Stanley were able to explain to Acting Fisheries Minister Gail Shea (MP for Edgmont) the existence and role of CHONe as well as the other four NSERC Strategic Networks involved in oceans research.  

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