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Sustainable future

Memorial public partners champion shared responsibility to protect the world’s ocean

By Rebecca Cohoe and Jeff Green

One of three special stories in the Gazette recognizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Global Goals Week, Sept. 16–25. Read them all by following the Related Content links below.

There’s an undeniable sense of place in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our physical location — an island shrouded by a cold, wet and oftentimes unforgiving coastal environment — has influenced our culture and people for generations.

It’s also shaped our university and the deep collaborations we have with our many public partners.

We draw inspiration from our place in this world and the water that surrounds us. When it comes to the ocean, we are international leaders, together.

Earlier this year, Memorial received positive results as part of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure the impact of universities in contributing to the United Nations sustainable development goals. Read more here.

Memorial ranks among the top 30 universities worldwide for its leadership in addressing issues related to the United Nations sustainability development goal No. 14: Life Below Water, a ranking that also reflects the strengths of our partnerships with the ocean sector of Newfoundland and Labrador, and beyond.

We asked some of our public partners to share their vision for a sustainable ocean future in Newfoundland and Labrador.

You can find their responses below.

1/ Shawna Dicker (BBA'21), project support lead, St. John’s, SmartICE

"I believe that collaborative efforts between young professionals and seasoned individuals can establish a more holistic and informed innovative sustainability framework for the future. By working together, all voices are heard and all developments are relevant and inclusive. Successes from that groundwork depends on everybody's ability to adapt as innovation and technology advance year after year."

Photo: Submitted

2/ Dr. David Murrin (B.Eng.’01, M.Eng.’04, PhD’07), director general, Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre, National Research Council of Canada

“In Newfoundland and Labrador, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by the ocean. It cleans the air we breathe, and provides us with sustenance, leisure, transportation and the means to support our families. We have a responsibility to protect the ocean in a sustainable way, and we can do this by developing a new generation of greener marine assets, reducing the carbon footprint from our fleets, improving coastal resilience and developing new and innovative methods to find solutions to pollution challenges. If we make the ocean our priority, it will continue to take care of us and future generations. With our unique history and knowledge of the ocean, and its importance and relevance to our environment and way of life, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador must continue to lead the way and inspire others to do the same.”

Photo: Submitted

3/ Mirella de Oliveira Leis (M.Sc.’16), founder, The Fish Market app

“I envision a future where our coastal communities are thriving, our people are food secure, our ocean is healthy and our fisheries are sustainable. I believe that achieving a sustainable ocean future starts with (re)connecting to our fisheries heritage, our ocean and its resources. Bringing fish harvesters and local consumers closer together not only increases access to locally caught fish and seafood, but also supports the local economy, encourages knowledge sharing and promotes fisheries sustainability and food sovereignty.”

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

4/ Elizabeth Lawrence (BA'85), director, Economic Development, Culture and Partnerships, City of St. John’s

“It is only by understanding the oceans’ potential can we cultivate an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future. We will be synonymous as the place that attracts and cultivates students, researchers and business as they excel in developing world-leading technologies about the ocean.”

Photo: Submitted

5/ Gary Corbett, lead, Oceans Holyrood Initiative

“Newfoundland and Labrador has a unique history shaped largely by the ocean. The importance of the ocean as it relates to the well-being of the world cannot be disputed and certainly the tremendous value of the ocean to our own province of Newfoundland and Labrador is key to our sustainability and growth. As we find new ways to engage with the ocean, we must be aware of our responsibility to effectively protect and support the natural marine ecosystem. The challenge stands before us to creatively find new ways to blend the ocean and its resources with our plans for economic activity and innovation through the blue economy. Newfoundland and Labrador is showing it is a leader in developing technologies used in the ocean sector and now as we move forward opening new opportunities for a variety of economic activity across several sectors, including the traditional fishing industry, we must allow protection of, and respect for, the ocean guide us in our decision-making.”

Photo: Submitted

6/ Gary Goobie, mayor, Town of Holyrood

“The ocean has an intrinsic value to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It has provided and continues to provide economic value through various industries such as fishing, energy, transportation, ship building/repair and technology development. As we move forward to find new and innovative ways of engaging both above and below the ocean, we must be prepared to include protection of the ocean as a key component of our planning. A healthy marine ecosystem will continue to provide limitless opportunities for economic activity across numerous sectors and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is more than capable of capitalizing on these opportunities in a manner that is built on knowledge and ocean protection, as well as prosperity.”

Photo: Submitted

7/ Rebecca Brushett (B.Ed.’10, MAEP’18), executive director, Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative

“A sustainable ocean is a result of strong ocean governance that can protect the health of our oceans and Newfoundland and Labrador coastal communities, together!”

Photo: Submitted

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