The major challenges we face regarding our oceans are the preservation of planetary environmental integrity, biodiversity and the services provided by marine ecosystems to humanity. These challenges have global and regional dimensions and are well outlined in the Ocean Health Index (Halpern et al. 2012) which measures the impact of human activities on the following services and benefits:
- Water quality;
- Biodiversity of marine species and habitats;
- Carbon storage;
- Sense of place;
- Sustainable extraction of food resources;
- Artisanal fishing opportunities;
- Coastal livelihoods and economies;
- Sustainable extraction of non-food resources (natural products);
- Coastal protection by natural habitats;
- Tourism and recreation.
The scientific program of Québec-Océan tackles major global and regional ocean challenges by generating scientific knowledge on the status and functioning of marine environments. Regional focal points are the Arctic Ocean and the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The program is based on those 10 elements (listed above) as well as the 40 Priority Research Questions for Ocean Science in Canada, Québec-Océan's public declaration and the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).
In order to support ecosystem health assessments, evaluations of the risks posed by environmental change, and the formulation of society's response to ocean challenges, the factual basis of our research will be made available to the general public and our partners in federal departments (e.g., Fisheries and Oceans Canada, DFO), in provincial departments (e.g., Québec Ministère du Développement Durable, de l’Environnement et de la lutte aux changements climatiques, MDDELCC), in industry and in regional organizations (e.g., ZIP comittees).
2.1. Anthropogenic pollution, nitrogenous eutrophication and marine biotoxins
2.2. Biodiversity, conservation and marine protected areas
2.3. Natural risks and coastal erosion
2.4. Operational forecasting of ocean state
3.1. Circulation, eddies and turbulence
3.2. Ecology and life cycle of marine organisms
3.3. Cycling of essential elements: links to biodiversity
3.4. Fluxes of matter across marine interfaces
3.5. Cutting-edge observing technologies