Ocean & Marine Work

The impacts of climate change on Canada’s coasts present both challenges and potential opportunities for coastal communities, ecosystems, and economic activities. How we adapt to the coming changes will be critical to the sustainability and continued prosperity of Canada and its coastal regions.

“We see warming waters throughout the (Atlantic) region. We see less oxygen as a result of warming waters and increased stratification, and we see lower levels of food in the water, particularly phytoplankton that has decreased over time.”

– Boris Worm, marine ecologist and the Research Professor at Dalhousie University.

There are a number of climate change issues that affect our ocean systems and marine work:

  • Increased temperature warms the ocean
  • Coastal waters are becoming less saline due to melting sea ice and more rainfall in high latitudes.
  • Warmer water holds less oxygen significantly shifting living conditions for species
  • The ocean is acidifying as a portion of the increased CO2 reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid, increasing hydrogen ion concentration. This particularly affects the nutrients, trace elements and toxins available to marine organisms; particularly carbonate, an essential component in shell formation. This could lead though to increased growth of seaweed which could provide an income stream for those working at sea.

Changes to how we manage the ocean and coastal areas should be informed by clear evidence and data using climate risk assessments that encourage appropriate adaptation measures.

CLIMAtlantic works with community stakeholders to encourage appropriate adaptation measures by sharing information, offering training in the foundations of climate science, and building upon climate adaptation efforts underway in Atlantic Canada’s ocean sector. 

An aerial shot of a small boat next to a whale in the water.

Photo Above: Rescuers trying to disentangle a North Atlantic Right Whale named Snow Cone, after she was found tangled in fishing gear near the northeastern coast of New Brunswick. (Photo retrieved from CBC, submitted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

Further Reading:

Bernier, R.Y., Jamieson, R.E., and Moore, A.M. (eds.) 2018. State of the Atlantic Ocean Synthesis Report. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 3167: iii + 149 p.

Lemmen, D.S., Warren, F.J., James, T.S. and Mercer Clarke, C.S.L. editors (2016): Canada’s Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate; Government of Canada, Ottawa, ON, 274p.

Government of Canada (Species at Risk Act). North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) in Canada: action plan.