The oceans are home to 99% of the Earth’s biosphere. Dynamic and fragile, they provide habitat for an extraordinary diversity of life and social-ecological systems, including the fisheries that have sustained human populations for millennia.

Today, the world’s oceans are in crisis. Human activity—including climate change, overfishing, habitat loss—has destabilized vital ecosystems and placed our collective future into question. New knowledge and new solutions are needed to avoid repeating the ecological and economic collapses of the 20th century.

The UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (IOF) contributes to a transformative global shift toward sustainable coastal ecosystems, oceans and fisheries. It brings together a community of Canadian and international experts in ocean and freshwater species, systems, economics, and issues—and provides new insights into how our marine systems function, and the impacts of human activity on those systems.

Housed at Canada’s premier west coast university, the IOF enables collaboration across a broad range of research and policy—and includes a growing global network of partners in governments, coastal communities, non-profit organizations and peer institutions to address issues of local and global concern.

Our focus is to understand how human activities impact the ecology of our oceans. How does overfishing today affect global fish stocks in the future? What are the consequences of human-induced climate change for the oceans? How does the full spectrum of marine life function in, and impact, natural systems? How can public policy be used to drive conservation as well as economic benefits?

Addressing these and other issues requires a holistic approach. Through a combination of research and outreach, we seek to understand and address the overall impacts of our changing global environment on marine and freshwater ecosystems, and ecosystem services.

Our integrated research programs span the natural and social sciences, including aquatic ecology, economics, zoology, anthropology, sociology, oceanography, marine geochemistry, microbiology, resource management and international maritime law.

Together, we are leading the way to healthy and sustainable marine and freshwater systems through excellent research, inspirational education, and innovative societal engagement.

IOF’s Vision: A world in which the ocean is healthy and its resources are used sustainably and equitably.
IOF’s Mission: To lead the way to healthy and sustainable marine and freshwater systems through excellent research, inspirational education, and innovative societal engagement.

aerlIOF Headquarters

The IOF is housed in the Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL), an $8.9 million facility offering 55,000 square feet for research, collaboration and teaching. A four-storey open atrium connects interdisciplinary research groups throughout the building. Adjacent to the atrium, social spaces promote a sense of community and encourage interaction between students, faculty and staff. Large public rooms on the ground floor provide a welcoming environment for academic and social events. The upper floors house offices, digital laboratories and a variety of meeting spaces.

The AERL building is certified LEED Gold and received the 2011 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal in Architecture for its sustainable design. The four-storey glass atrium brings daylight deep into the interior and pulls air into the building, eliminating the dependency on conventional ventilation, air conditioning and artificial lighting.