Canada’s oceans constitute a vital biological, geochemical, and physical milieu that supports human health, societal well-being, and creation of wealth. For millennia, the oceans have provided habitat for species of traditional and cultural significance to aboriginal people. Today, sustainably exploited fish populations and environmentally responsible aquaculture operations should provide secure local and national access to the protein and oils contained in seafood, and Canada’s oceans provide space for numerous recreational and commercial activities. Globally, marine life provides more than half the oxygen humans breathe and serves as a potentially rich source for modern pharmaceuticals.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has unequivocally acknowledged the importance of aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems to human well-being and sustainable human development. Indeed, there are compelling reasons to believe that reductions in Canadian and global marine biodiversity impair the ocean's capacity to provide a plethora of ecosystem services that contribute to the resilience of marine ecosystems and to the well-being of humankind.
Canada faces significant challenges in its efforts to conserve and sustain marine biodiversity. Among these, human-induced climate change represents the greatest challenge primarily because its effects will not be readily reversed. The RSC’s 2012 Expert Panel on Marine Biodiversity argued that the simplest and best strategy to deal with climate change is to protect existing diversity and to rebuild depleted populations and species to restore natural diversity. The challenge then is to sustain them at levels at which Canada’s marine biodiversity is able to optimize the ecosystem services that the oceans provide in support of Canadian society and in support of the welfare of the global community. By improving and protecting the health of Canada’s oceans, such a strategy will restore the natural resilience of Canada’s ocean ecosystems to adapt in response to the challenges posed by climate change and other anthropogenic activities.
Thursday, November 26, 2015 from 8:30am to 5:30pm
721 Government Street
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 1W5