The Bedford Institute of Oceanography: Current Program and Future Directions

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Summary

The Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) and its two associated laboratories, St. Andrews Biological Station and the Halifax Fisheries Research Laboratory, are funded by the Government of Canada through the Departments of Fisheries and Oceans, Energy, Mines and Resources, and Environment Canada. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is the proprietor of BIO and the largest participant in the research program. The overall objective of the science program at BIO is to ensure that scientific information of the highest standard is available to the Government of Canada for use in developing policies, regulations, and legislation regarding the oceans and the living and nonliving resources contained in the oceans and in the sedimentary rocks below. There is a role to play in making this information available to the ocean industry and to the general public.

BIO is unique as a scientific institution in combining all disciplines of marine science in one location. Scientific teams investigate the physical and chemical properties of the ocean, the life within it, and the geology of the sea floor, the interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere and the oceans and the continent, and develop new methods and technology for investigating present day processes and past history. Institute scientists collaborate extensively with university, private industry, and government colleagues, nationally and internationally, by publishing in the primary literature, producing atlases, charts and other publications, transferring technology, and providing scientific advice.

With respect to future directions, our scientific program will continue to be multidisciplinary and will embrace not just knowledge available within national boundaries but global knowledge on important scientific issues. The trend towards major field experiments and numerical experimentation will continue through participation in projects such as the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), and Fisheries in a Changing Climate (FICC). Some of the specific laboratory themes will include (I) more emphasis on the development of instrumentation for acoustic studies on zooplankton biomass and production, (2) development of oceanographic data products to aid in stock assessment and monitoring environmental change, (3) cold water aquaculture diversification, (4) remote sensing, (5) ocean modelling, (6) improved estimates of carbon fixation and vertical fluxes in the North Atlantic, and (7) shoreline erosion studies.

Evaluation of hydrocarbon and mineral resource potential in the offshore will increasingly require sophisticated modelling to obtain an understanding of resource generation and accumulation. Research aimed at an improved understanding of the marine environment will allow society to make wise decisions on the exploitation of these resources and the preparation of appropriate scenarios for land use management and development of Canada’s offshore lands.