BIO is a modern oceanographic research facility, established in 1962 by the Federal Government of Canada (the former Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, now Natural Resources Canada) and is located on the shores of the Bedford Basin in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Over the last 50 years it has grown to become Canada's largest centre for ocean research. The Institute performs targeted research, mandated by the Canadian government, to provide 'peer' reviewed advice and support to government decision making on a broad range of ocean issues, including sovereignty, safety and security, environmental protection, the health of the oceans, safe and accessible waterways, the sustainable use of natural resources (fisheries, minerals, oil & gas) and the integrated management large ocean management areas.
Bordered by three oceans, Canada has a 240,000-km coastline, the longest of any country in the world. Its continental shelf represents an area about 40% the size of the Canadian landmass. Against this background, Canada must collect information about all aspects of its ocean resources; this information is vital for land-use and coastal planning, ocean management and reducing risk from natural and anthropogenic hazards. In and under the oceans, enormous quantities of natural resources reside in the water column or lie buried in the bedrock; these include stocks of fish, shellfish and marine plants, oil and natural gas and mineral resources. This can mean economic sustainability for generations of Canadians and is the basis of our collective efforts to submit a claim under article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Our UNCLOS work will form the scientific basis for a claim for the seabed rights over an area beyond the 200 miles of our current exclusive economic zone.
Oceanography, by nature, is a multidisciplinary research field, involving geological, physical, chemical and biological research disciplines. To solve problems related to the oceans, BIO houses over 600 researchers, engineers, technicians, natural resource and environmental managers, and support staff from a variety of different disciplines. Currently, four federal departments are located at BIO: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Environment Canada (EC), and the Department of National Defence (DND). The facilities are all managed by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC).
DFO has a number of different Branches working at BIO. The largest is the Science Branch with the Regional Director of Science also being the Director of BIO. There are five Science Divisions at BIO: the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS); Ocean Sciences; Population Ecology; Ecosystem Research; and Strategic Planning, Advisory Activities and Outreach. The Oceans, Habitat and Species at Risk Branch has all four of its divisions located at BIO. The Informatics Branch provides all appropriate computing services as well as being a national centre of long term data storage and handling. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Branch is represented at BIO with the Regional Aquaculture Coordination Office. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has a technical services section at BIO which provides a broad base of support to our fleet of ocean and coastal vessels. The CCG will soon have a much larger presence at BIO with the relocation of the CCG Dartmouth Base from its present waterfront location on Parker Street to BIO.
NRCan is represented by the Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic). It has become Canada's principal marine geo-science facility and its scientific research expertise focuses on marine and petroleum geology, geophysics, geochemistry and geo-technology. GSC Atlantic is the source of integrated knowledge and advice on Canada's coastal and offshore underwater landmass and is also leading the national program for UNCLOS.
DND supports its ocean surveillance and security activities through the Maritime Forces Atlantic's Route Survey Office located at BIO. In co-operation with CHS and GSC Atlantic, multi-beam surveys of areas of the sea floor of specific interest to DND are conducted, analyzed, mapped and charted.
The Marine Water Quality Monitoring Unit of Environment Canada conducts sanitary and water quality surveys and analyzes the samples at the microbiology laboratory at BIO in support of the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program.
PWGSC has a dedicated team of facility service specialists that keep the entire BIO Campus operating effectively and efficiently.
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