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Ocean Health

Rockfish © Isabelle CotéHealth is an effective, readily understood metaphor and applied to the ocean includes diverse marine ecosystems with viable populations of species, genetic diversity and resilience.  CHONe scientists continue to work towards a definition of ocean health for Canada’s oceans.

Though oceans health is often referred to, a definition of oceans health that is internationally accepted is just emerging. Canada has embarked on a strategy to protect its oceans health, bound by national and international laws and evolving international agreements. CHONe’s research contributes to key aspects of ocean health and Canada’s strategies to protect healthy oceans, including the development of a Canadian Ocean Health Framework based on scientific assessment criteria and relevant ecosystem health indices.



Executive Summary,  A Framework for Assessing and Reporting

on the Status and Trends in Ocean and Coastal Health in Canada





What is Ocean Health?

Ecosystem health is based on the interpretation of factors that affect:

      • Vigour (functioning, productivity)
      • Organization (species, populations, diversity)
      • Resilience (resistance / adaptation to change)


Some definitions used in Canada as part of its international agreements and collaborations include:


UN Health of the Oceans:

 “the condition of the marine environment from the perspective of adverse effects caused by anthropogenic activities, in particular, changes in biodiversity, genetic loss, habitat loss and alteration in ecosystem structure and processes.” (International Oceanographic Commission. 2001, The final design plan for the HOTO module of GOOS. GOOS Report No. 99, IOC/INF -1167, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Oceanographic Commission (IOC), Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) Health of The Oceans (HOTO) Module, Paris. 98 pp.) – Evolving into Global Ocean Observing System

European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

Good Environmental Status (GES) status’ means the environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic conditions, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for uses and activities by current and future generations”
(EC/MSFD 2008)



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