Summer Seminars – 2019

May 23, 2019. 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
AERL Theatre (120)

The ocean around us, the country that joins us: OFI comes to IOF

The Pacific Ocean may be larger, but the Atlantic Ocean — specifically the North Atlantic — is significant. The region’s unique physical, chemical and biological processes make it an epicentre of international scientific interest and a predictor for the global ocean. Its deep overturning circulation results in the most intense carbon sequestration on the planet. It has a highly productive marine ecosystem and air-sea interactions that modulate the weather and climate of North America and Europe. At the same time, climate change — specifically diminished ice cover — has increased shipping in the Canadian Arctic, raising sovereignty, security, social and environmental issues.

The Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) was established in 2016 to bring together researchers from both sides of the North Atlantic to better understand how and why the North Atlantic is changing and to identify effective approaches to resource development that are globally competitive and sustainable.

On May 23, Wendy Watson-Wright, CEO of the OFI, will provide an overview of her organization, its research and expected benefits for Canada, and will discuss current and potential future connections between OFI and IOF.

Dr. Wendy Watson-Wright is the Chief Executive Officer of the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI). Headquartered at Dalhousie University and Memorial University of Newfoundland, the OFI is a Canadian-led interdisciplinary transnational research institute whose aim is the safe and sustainable development of the ocean frontier, with a current focus on the North Atlantic and Canadian Arctic gateway.

From 2010 to 2015, Dr. Watson-Wright served as the Executive Secretary and Assistant Director General of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) in Paris. The IOC is considered as the competent international organization for marine scientific research in the UN. For most of her career, she held various senior positions within Fisheries and Oceans Canada, including as Assistant Deputy Minister of Science from 2001 to 2009.

Dr. Watson-Wright has been on several boards and panels including the Belmont Forum Review Panel on the Collaborative Research Action call for Ocean Sustainability (Chair), the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Ocean and Atmosphere program review panel, the Board of Governors for the International Ocean Institute, the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Ocean Science in Canada, and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X-Prize.

A Killam scholar, she holds a Ph.D. in Physiology from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


May 1, 2019. 11:00 am – 12 noon
AERL Rm. 107/8

Applying the ecosystem approach to aquaculture: mapping the footprint of multiple effluents

Human activities can elevate nutrient levels in coastal waters. Nitrogen loading is of particular concern as it can lead to algal blooms, oxygen depletion, and other indicators of eutrophication. Monitoring aquaculture effluents has therefore developed into an intense area of research as these operations can release considerable amounts of nitrogen and other wastes into the surrounding water. However, most water bodies also receive effluents from other sources such as agriculture and waste water treatment. Therefore there is a need for coastal management to move towards an ‘ecosystem approach to aquaculture’, where the effects of multiple fish farms and other human activities are simultaneously considered at the wider scale.

Our guest speaker, Dr. Leigh Howarth, has been studying effluents with seaweed ‘bioindicators’ as a way of assessing water quality. As seaweeds rapidly absorb and accumulate nutrients within their tissues, they can better reflect long-term nutrient levels compared to more traditional measures of water chemistry. They found that seaweeds, taken from a bay in Nova Scotia close to a salmon farm and several other industrial activities, could distinguish and map the footprints of multiple effluent sources, proving that seaweed bioindicators could play an important role in applying the ecosystem approach to aquaculture.

Leigh’s research focuses on using ecological indicators to better inform resource management. He achieved his PhD from the University of York in the U.K. where he investigated the fishery and ecological effects of Scotland’s first fully protected marine reserve. He then completed a two-year post-doc at Bangor University in Wales where he investigated the impacts of fishing and climate change on the functioning of benthic ecosystems. Currently, he is a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University, where he investigates the ecological effects of salmon aquaculture under Professor Jon Grant and Dr Ramon Filguiera.