We need to fill the knowledge gaps to build a better picture of the ocean

We need to fill the knowledge gaps to build a better picture of the ocean

Written by:
Name: Isa Woulfe
Profession: AORA-CSA / Marine Institute



Geneviève Béchard, 

Director-General Canadian Hydrographic Service, Fisheries and Oceans Canada talks to AORA at the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum held in Brussels from 6-7 February 2020. She discusses the achievements of the Galway Statement and the importance of funding and filling knowledge gaps to help build a bigger and better picture of the ocean. 


 What is next for the Galway Statement and All-Atlantic Ocean Cooperation?


We have done a lot within the Galway Statement. As the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development gets ready to be launched next year, we are really well-positioned to take stock and realign some of the activities that we have been conducting around knowledge and information sharing, looking at how we share, access and use data, engaging citizens and looking at how we do that across the Atlantic.


 There were some key trends discussed at the forum and days surrounding it, with collaboration and knowledge-sharing being two of the biggest ones. Is that what the Galway Statement is all about?


Absolutely. We have heard from youth in particular, and very much look forward to building on the activities that the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors have launched. We also had a very interesting side meeting with funders and potential funders. All of this requires a lot of engagement and investment, and we certainly appreciate those who participated in the funders' meeting - coming together and looking at ways that we can support some of the work that needs to happen.


Funding is certainly required to make sure that your projects become reality, but do you think there is enough knowledge and expertise?


There is certainly a lot of knowledge and expertise that has been brought together during the forum, and we also heard about a large number of initiatives that can be brought together. However, because we do not know enough about the ocean, there are still a number of knowledge gaps. There are many areas left to explore that will allow us to tap into new information that can help us build a bigger picture of the ocean.


There were a number of references to the Galway and Belém Statements at the forum. Who would have thought that those documents would have been significant in bringing the North and South Atlantic together?


Absolutely. I can only agree with that statement.


What are your hopes and priorities for Canada looking forward?


Certainly, looking at building on what we have been doing around a number of the themes, which includes: mapping the work that has been done around microbiome and ocean literacy; looking at what is being planned in particular; and using the UN Decade of the Ocean to help propel some of the ideas more broadly.