Atlantic Region

The Atlantic Working Group operates out of the University of Waterloo and Saint Mary’s University, and is addressing critical knowledge gaps, contributing methodologically innovative strategies for ocean and coastal planning, and developing policy insights about pressing regional concerns.

One of our key projects is to use participatory modelling and scenario building to assess development, governance and stewardship options in collaboration with the community of Port Mouton, Nova Scotia. Models and scenarios will be used to explore specific economic development and environmental conservation options, including exploration of interactions between economic sectors, such as fisheries, tourism, and mineral extraction. We will also examine the impact of a range of climate change scenarios, and possible human responses.

We are also conducting a regional-scale assessment to identify the relationships among core marine ecosystem services (the benefits people derive from nature through provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural functions), the material, relational and subjective wellbeing of coastal communities, and the experience with rapid changes (i.e., tipping points) in ocean and coastal systems.

Members of our group are also undertaking an assessment and analysis of the governance mismatch between: a) local-provincial coastal management processes (e.g., provincial aquaculture policies, support for coastal community diversification) and ocean-related planning processes operating at federal levels; and b) the ability of existing institutions and governance arrangements at multiple scales to respond to rapid changes in social-ecological conditions (e.g., stock decline, stock shifts, acidification).

Anticipated outcomes

  • Models and scenarios of coastal and ocean change and potential futures (socio-economic and biophysical) that can assist local and regional policy makers
  • Potential transfer of participatory modeling approach to other sites in the Atlantic and to other regions
  • Novel assessments of links among ocean and coastal ecosystem services and wellbeing in the context of rapid change to support coastal communities and guide policy makers
  • Strategies to improve coordination among local, provincial and federal actors in oceans planning and management
  • Building capacity and training of students to tackle transdisciplinary ocean challenges

Activities 2015/2016

The Atlantic Working Group is continuing to foster applied research to help government agencies, communities, and other partners manage the increasing change and uncertainty associated with ocean and coastal systems (ecological, social and institutional). It is progressing on several fronts: 1) addressing key knowledge gaps about social-ecological change in ocean and coastal systems, and the implications for the wellbeing and resilience of coastal communities in the Atlantic region; 2) contributing methodologically innovative strategies for ocean and coastal planning; and 3) developing insights to support more adaptive policy and governance for issues of regional concern. Key areas of progress are in the areas of graduate student research projects, formalized arrangements with new partners, engagement in new initiatives related to core OCP themes, on-going development of previously identified initiatives, and recruitment of a post-doctoral fellow to support aspects of its research plan.