Brussels, 29 April 2016
The European Union and Canada are strengthening their scientific collaboration in order to better understand and protect the Atlantic Ocean, and to sustainably use its resources.
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Hunter Tootoo, the Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, agreed today in Brussels to further align funding and pool resources dedicated to innovative research projects.
Commissioner Moedas said: "We rely on oceans to regulate the climate and weather and to provide us with food and other important marine resources. But coral reefs, fish stocks and marine mammals are declining at alarming rates, as we push these vital marine ecosystems to the brink. Canada and the EU are committed to harnessing the societal and economic value of our oceans responsibly, while working together to protect the vital marine ecosystems that produce those resources. The better we understand the Atlantic Ocean through shared international research, the quicker we can adjust and adapt how we use and conserve these life-giving waters."
Minister Tootoo said: "By sharing knowledge and resources and by working together on research and monitoring programs, we can make significant progress in understanding the ocean we share. The information collected by our scientists will contribute to a better understanding of the Atlantic Ocean’s complex ecosystem and will help us collectively improve its sustainable management."
The EU has invested €120 million in ten Atlantic projects under the "Blue Growth" calls of Horizon 2020, the research funding programme. Projects such as PrimeFish, AquaSpace and ClimeFish, which involve participants from both shores of the Atlantic, are already studying ways of improving economic and environmental sustainability of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
The alignment of funding and pooling of resources is one of the biggest accomplishments of the EU-Canada-United States Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance launched in 2013. Commissioner Moedas and Minister Tootoo welcomed the excellent results that the Alliance has delivered on seabed mapping, observation systems, aquaculture, ocean literacy, ocean health and stressors.
This summer, Canada, the EU and the United States will launch the fourth joint expedition on board the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Louis St. Laurent. The data will be used to further our understanding of marine habitats, conservation and navigation.
In the past three years, the EU-Canada-US Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation (May 2013) has constantly gained momentum and international recognition. The statement launched an Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance working to increase our knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and its dynamic systems – including interlinks with the portion of the Arctic region that borders the Atlantic – by aligning our ocean observation efforts to improve ocean health and stewardship and promote the sustainable management of its resources.
Canada is one of the EU's oldest and closest partners. The diplomatic relations started formally in 1976. Numerous events are marking this year the anniversary of 40 years of diplomatic relations, but also of 20 years of Science & Technology relations.
- EC Spokesperson for Research, Science and Innovation