Towards an integrated database on Canadian ocean resources: benefits, current states, and research gaps.

Oceanic ecosystem services support a range of human benefits and Canada has extensive research networks producing growing datasets. We present a first effort to compile, link and harmonize available information to provide new perspectives on the status of Canadian ocean ecosystems and corresponding research. The metadata database currently includes 1,094 individual assessments and datasets from government (n=716), non-government (n=320), and academic sources (n=58), comprising research on marine species, natural drivers and resources, human activities, ecosystem services, and governance, with datasets spanning from 1979-2012 on average. Overall, research shows a strong prevalence towards single-species fishery studies, with an underrepresentation of economic and social aspects, and of the Arctic region in general. Nevertheless, the number of studies that are multi-species or ecosystem-based have increased since the 1960s. We present and discuss two illustrative case studies—marine protected area establishment in Canada, and herring resource use by the Heiltsuk First Nation—highlighting the use of multi-disciplinary datasets drawn from metadata records. Identifying knowledge gaps is key to achieving the comprehensive, accessible and interdisciplinary datasets and subsequent analyses necessary for new sustainability policies that meet both ecological and socioeconomic needs.