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Canada: Leader or Laggard in Sustaining Marine Biodiversity

Dr. Jeffrey Hutchings
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation & Biodiversity
Dalhousie University

ABSTRACT: Canada is an ocean nation with the longest coastline in the world.  By law, ocean life belongs to no industry and no government; it belongs to society. But this level of stewardship carries with it the burden and responsibility of international leadership in the protection, conservation, and sustainable exploitation of marine biodiversity. Has Canada accepted the responsibility its geography demands? How have fisheries and aquaculture affected Canada’s past and present ocean life, and how might climate change affect it in the future? Biological depredation of waters bordered by the world’s longest coastline ultimately reflects ineffectual leadership and disingenuous commitment to environmental sustainability. Governmental and societal lip service need to be replaced by meaningful responses to over-exploitation and climate change. What can make Canada shift from laggard to leader in sustaining marine biodiversity?

THE SPEAKER: Following graduate studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MSc 1986; PhD 1991), Jeffrey Hutchings worked at Edinburgh University and Fisheries & Oceans Canada before accepting a position at Dalhousie University (1995), where he is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation & Biodiversity. In 2010, he was appointed to the Centre For Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis at University of Oslo, Norway. Hutchings’ research on the evolutionary ecology, population dynamics, and conservation biology of fishes has been recognized in many forms, including the 3rd Annual Canada Oceans Lecture (2008). Author of 150 peer-reviewed articles, and the first Canadian-focused university text on Ecology, he has served as Editor or Associate Editor for 6 journals and as Chair of 4 national committees, including Canada’s national science advisory body on species at risk of extinction (COSEWIC; 2006-10). Chair of the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on The Effects of Climate Change, Fisheries, and Aquaculture on Canada’s Marine Biodiversity (2009-2012), he is incoming President of the 900-member Canadian Society For Ecology and Evolution.  

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