Today’s oceans and freshwater ecosystems are in crisis. Human activity — including climate change, overfishing, habitat loss, eutrophication – — 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 the transformative global shift toward sustainable oceans coastal ecosystems, 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 that human activity has on those systems. Our research groups focus on issues of local significance in Western Canada, including the Salish Sea and Strait of Georgia, as well as broader global concerns, such as artisanal fisheries in developing countries, and high seas overfishing.

We work to understand how human activities impact the ecology of our marine ecosystems: How will overfishing today affect global fish stocks in the future? What are the consequences of human-induced climate change for the oceans? What are people’s connections to the sea and how does this affect our ability to detect, and adapt to, changes in the marine environment? How do we align ocean management with the interests and customary practices of maritime people to achieve sustainability? 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?

The IOF is constantly undertaking challenging new research in response to emerging issues, trends and awareness, (most recently: microplastics, salmon population decline, aquaculture, etc.). We also collaborate with research scientists around the globe, as well as policy-makers at all levels. Research cannot exist in a vacuum; we are dedicated to ensuring that it is shared widely and transparently so that it can be most effective.