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Depth and breadth

OFI conference focuses on unlocking secrets of the North Atlantic


By Jeff Green

To say the world’s ocean is enormous is an understatement. Although it covers more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface, less than five per cent is known about what lies beneath its surface.

Memorial is helping shed light on the vast potential of one of this planet’s richest resources as it hosts Ocean Frontier 2018: North Atlantic Opportunities, the first-ever biennial conference organized by the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI). The conference takes place Tuesday, Oct. 9 to Friday, Oct. 12 at the Delta St. John’s Hotel.

The Ocean Frontier Institute is hosting its first-ever biennial conference Oct. 9-12 in St. John's.
The Ocean Frontier Institute is hosting its first-ever biennial conference Oct. 9-12 in St. John’s.
Photo: Submitted

OFI represents a historic partnership between Memorial, Dalhousie University and the University of Prince Edward Island. OFI was launched in September 2016 thanks to considerable funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund and various private and public-sector organizations.

More than 300 delegates including internationally-renowned researchers, environmental and policy experts, scientists and graduate students, and others are participating in the conference.

President Kachanoski is scheduled to deliver remarks during the opening reception on Oct. 9 while Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), will provide remarks during a closing event on Oct. 12.

Dr. Wendy Watson-Wright, chief executive officer, OFI; and Dr. Anya Waite, OFI’s scientific director, are also participating in sessions.

Schedule snapshot

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, Megan Leslie, president and chief executive officer of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada will deliver a keynote address entitled Opportunities Knock: How science, partnerships and innovation will secure a future for our ocean. An OFI research showcase later that day will summarize research activities, followed by various breakout sessions and a research show and tell.

On Thursday, Oct. 11, Dr. Louis Fortier, professor and Canada Research Chair in Arctic Marine Ecosystems’ Response to Global Warming at Laval University, is scheduled to deliver a presentation entitled Trans-sectoral studies of the changing Arctic: Shifts in ecosystems and ecosystem services. A second research showcase and breakout sessions will follow, along with a panel discussion and pitch pit event.

OFI's conference focuses on unlocking the secrets of the North Atlantic.
OFI’s conference focuses on unlocking the secrets of the North Atlantic.
Photo: David Howells

Also on Thursday, Oct. 11, Newfoundland and Labrador Senator Fabian Manning will deliver a lunch-time presentation entitled Aquaculture in Canada: An Ocean of Opportunities.

On Friday, Oct. 12, a panel discussion will focus on industry’s perspective on the importance of ocean research and a discussion regarding OFI future funding for research.

Strong representation

Several Memorial researchers will also participate in sessions, which Dr. Paul Snelgrove, University Research Professor, departments of Ocean Sciences and Biology, Faculty of Science and OFI’s associate scientific director, will co-chair.

These include Dr. Barbara Neis, John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; Dr. Amanda Bates, Canada Research Chair in Marine Physiological Ecology, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science; Dr. Brad deYoung, professor, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Faculty of Science; and Dr. Brett Favaro, Marine Institute among many others.

Team effort

The conference is spearheaded by teams with representation from OFI’s three partner institutes: Memorial, Dalhousie and UPEI.

Major supporters of the OFI conference are Cooke Aquaculture, Cox & Palmer, Genome Atlantic, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the National Research Council of Canada. Supporting sponsors are the Centre for Marine Applied Research, the City of St. John’s, Ingenium, Ocean Choice International and RBR.

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