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Ocean Acidification in Canadian Coastal Communities: an Integrated Coastal Acidification Program (I-CAP)

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    Karen Kohfeld Simon Fraser University

Developing a cross-coastal acidification program for Canada and providing an inter-disciplinary framework to address four thematic questions.

This project aims to develop a national coastal acidification program for Canada that is directly aligned with MEOPAR's theme 2, “aiming to improve the ability of government, the private sector, and coastal communities to anticipate, prepare and adapt to developing marine risks on time scales of seasons to a century.”

The program will address the following four thematic questions:

(a) what is the spatial and temporal variability of carbonate chemistry in near-coastal areas where harvesters are operating?
(b) what are the dominant controls on observed variability in near-coastal regions, and how do they vary between regions in Canada?
(c) how does spatio-temporal variability affect species important to shellfish harvesters and coastal communities?
(d) given these vulnerabilities, what are the socio-economic risks to Canadian coastal communities affected by coastal acidification?

To address these questions over the 3-year duration of this program, the approach is to focus first on two regions of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, with research that will:

(a) build upon existing government observation programs by involving end-users (i.e. local fishing industries and communities) in data collection in near-shore coastal regions. These data will be centralized to enhance data sharing;
(b) incorporate measurements into existing biogeochemical modeling efforts to better understand regional controls and spatio-temporal variability in ocean acidification (OA);
(c) asses the biological impacts of coastal acidification on key species, through directed field experiments informed by biogeochemical data and harvesters in the Pacific, and in the Atlantic by conducting directed, multi-stressor experiments to investigate the response on the early life stages of American lobster (economically the largest contributor to commercial fisheries landings in 2012 in the Maritimes) and their associated microbial communities; and
(e) initiate an integrated socioeconomic risk analysis that assesses the dependence of coastal communities on marine resources that could become negatively impacted by OA.

Policy makers will be involved in the discussion from the early stages of the research so that scientists are aware of the necessary information and format for policy makers.

NOTE: This project is also highly integrated with core project 3.8: data management - social sciences.


  • Homarus Inc


  • Susan Allen University of British Columbia
  • Kumiko Azetsu-Scott Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Piero Calosi
  • Anthony Charles Saint Mary's University
  • Joel Chasse
  • Dounia Daoud
  • Katja Fennel Dalhousie University
  • Jennifer Ford
  • Christopher Harley
  • Debby Ianson
  • Julie LaRoche Dalhousie University
  • Diane Lavoie
  • Jennifer Silver University of Guelph
  • Terri Sutherland Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • David VanderZwaag Dalhousie University


  • Charles,Anthony,. 2015, Balanced harvesting in fisheries: Economic considerations, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 10.1093/icesjms/fsv161.
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2016, Bioeconomics of ocean acidification effects on fisheries targeting calcifier species: A decision theory approach, Fisheries Research, 176:1-14,
  • Charles,Anthony,Seijo, J. C., R. Villanueva-Poot. 2016, Bioeconomics of ocean acidification effects on fisheries targeting calcifier species: A decision theory approach, Fisheries Research, 176:1-14. ,
  • Cheung,William,Sumaila,Rashid,. 2016, Canada at a crossroad: The imperative for realigning ocean policy with ocean science, Marine Policy, 63:53-60,
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2015, Key principles of marine ecosystem-based management, Marine Policy, 57:53-60,
  • VanderZwaag,David,. 2014, Ocean Acidification and Geoengineering: Navigating beyond the law of the sea , Belgium Journal of International Law,
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2015, Social networks and transitions to co-management in Jamaican marine reserves and small-scale fisheries, Global Environmental Change, 35:213–225,
  • Charles,Anthony,Ravagnan, E., Gjerstad, B., Provan, F., Gomiero, A., Hynes, S., Lestariadi, R.A., Rodriguez Rodriguez, G., Timor, J., Wakamatsu, H., Adhuri, D.S., Imran, Z., Le Gallic, B., Salas, S.. 2017, Sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture: the multidisciplinary approach as a key for success: an active discussion. Transdisciplinary research towards fisheries and aquaculture: a road to sustainability and social acceptance, IIFET Conference 2016,

This project aims to improve Canadian ocean management by examining how regional changes in OA may affect marine resources, specifically harvested species that are integral to the social and economic development of coastal Canadian communities. This work will examine the interaction between vulnerable species (and life stage) habitats and regions where OA effects will be strongest.

These data will be placed in the context of the economic and social importance of these vulnerable species to communities, fishing industries and Indigenous Peoples.

This project aims to characterize potential impacts of OA on coastal communities. This new information may inform regional to national policy decisions aimed at mitigating and adapting to these impacts.

We recognize the importance of including policy players at the beginning stages of this proposed work, so that the perspectives of policy analysts may be incorporated into the research model. Collaborators will be invited to participate in early discussions and workshops to help to shape how questions are asked and what information is learned from the initial stages of this work.