Community Report

Ocean Frontier Institute

The Ocean Frontier Institute Community Report celebrates OFI’s accomplishments since being established in 2015.

The need for ocean knowledge

The ocean is the largest ecosystem on Earth. Representing 99% of the habitable space on our planet, it hosts unmatched biodiversity: there are at least 240,000 known species and 2,000 new species are discovered each year.   We must prioritize ocean health and ocean management, because so many species – including humans – rely on the ocean. A healthy planet depends on a healthy ocean.
Explore the history of OFI and our efforts to learn more about the changing ocean ecosystem.
June 2015
OFI was established to create a transnational multi-disciplinary research and training environment, and to provide a nexus for researchers to work collaboratively with key stakeholders and rightsholders in Canada and around the globe.
Workers recovering a slocum glider
Photo credit: Nickolas Winkler Photography, courtesy of the Ocean Tracking Network
September 2016
Dalhousie University, with partner institutions Memorial University and the University of Prince Edward Island, was awarded a $93.7 million Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant for the Safe and Sustainable Development of the Ocean Frontier research program, administered by OFI.
July 2017
Phase 1 of OFI’s Large Research Projects is launched. These multi-year transdisciplinary projects span a range of research themes, including:
  • Atmosphere-Ocean Interactions
  • Shifting Ecosystems
  • Marine Safety
  • Ocean Data & Technology
  • Sustainable Fisheries
  • Sustainable Aquaculture
Sonde on a boat overlooking the ocean
Deploying a wave glider
Photo credits: Nickolas Winkler Photography, courtesy of the Ocean Tracking Network
June 2018
The OFI Seed Fund is launched. This program is designed to support ocean innovation and entrepreneurship. Project themes include:
  • Indigenous Knowledge
  • Oceanography
  • Biology
  • Engineering
  • Fisheries & Aquaculture
  • Social Sciences
October 2018
Over 330 delegates from Atlantic Canada, across the country, and abroad, met in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, to discuss the Safe and Sustainable Development of the Ocean Frontier. The conference covered topics such as:
  • How Science, Partnerships and Innovation Will Secure a Future for the Ocean
  • Our Changing Ocean
  • Identifying Ocean Solutions
  • Industry Perspectives on the Importance of Ocean Research
St. John's Newfoundland
February 2020
Phase 2 of OFI’s Large Research Projects is launched. These multi-year transdisciplinary projects focused on:
  • The North Atlantic as a Climate Ocean
  • Coastal Communities and the Ocean
Research vessel in the oceanWale tail breaching the surface
Photo credits: Nick Hawkins
December 2020
The Ocean Graduate Excellence Network (OGEN) is launched, supporting studentships for 25 students, with funding partners including the National Research Council of Canada, Mitacs, Graphite Innovation Technologies, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. OGEN enhances Masters and PhD programs with training experience designed to equip the next generation of ocean researchers for the global job market.
Students sampling
Catching a shark
Photo credits: Nick Hawkins
March 2021
Working with the Advisory Committee on Indigenous Engagement in Ocean Research, and through generous feedback from Indigenous groups, OFI develops an Indigenous Engagement Guide to help ensure active incorporation of Indigenous interests and rights into OFI’s ongoing vision for North Atlantic research and environmental stewardship.
“The commitment from everyone to ensure respect and understanding of Inuit ways of living and doing, of our culture and our language has helped our team do exceptional work. This has given me the belief and trust that we are moving away from the old way of doing research and that the rightful way can be achieved with hard work, the right people, and through respect and trust.”
- Mary Denniston, Nunatsiavut Government
April 2022
OFI sponsored two undergraduate students to embark on a 16-week expedition aboard the research sailing vessel Statsraad Lehmkuhl. The students participated as crew members as they sailed the Pacific Ocean as part of an ocean sustainability course offered through Norway’s University of Bergen, finally docking in Palau.
Boat sailing on the ocean
Photo credit: Alannah Dejong and Molly Wells
Beach illustration by Molly Wells
Tahiti illustration by Molly Wells
Illustration credits: Molly Wells
April 2022
Ocean School is endorsed as an official Activity of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. In partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, this OFI program combines leading-edge educational technology with inspiring visuals to help teach people about the ocean.
May 2022
During the second Ocean Frontier Biennial Conference, OFI gathered over 250 delegates in Halifax to discuss six focused topics:
  • Achieving Net Zero
  • People and the Ocean
  • The Imperative of Ocean-Based carbon dioxide removal
  • Food from the Ocean
  • Innovation and Commercialization
  • Biodiversity
Boat traveling through Halifax Harbour
Photo credit: Richard Davis
October 2022
The Ocean Frontier Institute 2022-2027 Strategy is launched. Developed in consultation with its researchers, OFI has established three research pillars that will guide the focus of its work into the future:
  • Achieving Net Zero
  • Protecting Biodiversity
  • Sustainable Bioresources
November 2022
OFI participated in the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where we highlighted the need for a North Atlantic Carbon Observatory to observe, synthesize, and deliver ocean and climate data in near real-time.
Scuba diving student sampling fish
Photo credit: Nick Hawkins
In just seven years, OFI has established itself as a driving force in ocean science. By supporting transdisciplinary research, innovation and commercialisation, and policy development, as well as a cross cutting focus on partnerships, OFI is advancing the region’s and Canada’s global recognition as an ocean research powerhouse.
To support cutting edge ocean research training and programs - providing the scientific framework to drive ocean policy and innovation.
Large Research Projects
Seed fund projects
Opportunities Fund Projects
Research Outputs
Start-up Companies
Government publications
Keynote speeches
700 +
Conference presentations
Total cash and in-kind contributions from
170 +
Ccontributing partners
Industrial partners who contributed cash or in-kind support to OFI
Building the next generation of ocean experts and leaders
Students Engaged in OFI Sponsored Research
Postdoctoral Fellows
Fellowships for early career PhDs
Visiting Fellows
International Postdoctoral Fellowships
Training & Education
Formal Academic Institutional Partnerships
Informing Policy
Policy workshops, briefs and reports
Ocean Experts
Research support staff
Download the full Community Report
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