Future Ocean and Coastal Infrastructures

We are linked closely to the ocean through physical/built infrastructures such as ports, vessels and navigation technology, natural infrastructures like coastlines, sea currents and fish habitats, and societal infrastructures such as seafood markets, marine shipping regulations, and cultural traditions and knowledge of coastal communities. Climate and ocean ecosystem changes are interacting with the changing built and societal infrastructures on which we rely. Coupled with extreme weather, coastal erosion, sea level rise, and more, these changes are creating new risks and challenges for the ocean industries and coastal communities that link us to the ocean. Researchers on the Future Ocean and Coastal Infrastructures project are re-thinking the way we design, develop, and manage infrastructures, with an overarching aim to ensure the designs of our future infrastructures are sustainable, safe and inclusive.

Project details

Principal Investigator(s):
Paul Foley, Lorenzo Moro
Principal Investigator:
Project Start Date:
Project End Date:
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Research Outcomes

About the research project

About the research

Researchers are:

  • Executing transdisciplinary research and working with coastal communities to creatively design, regenerate and adapt ocean and coastal industry/community infrastructures in preparation for future environmental and social change
  • Focusing on co-designing infrastructures with the potential to enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Looking for innovative infrastructure designs that support sustainability and improved safety
  • Creating opportunities for communities and industries to explore ocean and coastal change challenges and to engage with infrastructure design processes, including with Indigenous groups, different genders, youth, seniors, people with disabilities, and rural and urban dwellers

Research Team

To achieve its objectives, FOCI’s co-principal investigators Dr. Paul Foley (Memorial University, Environmental Policy Institute, Grenfell Campus) and Dr. Lorenzo Moro (Memorial University, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering) have engaged a team of 65 researchers and collaborators from 34 engineering, natural science, social science, and artistic disciplines, 18 institutions, and 88 local, regional, national, and international partners and collaborators from Indigenous communities, industry, government, and civil society.

FOCI is achieving its objectives by carrying out a rich program of research, training, and engagement organized into nine Work Packages (WPs), each clustered under one of the three core themes of sustainability, safety, and inclusion. Four additional integration work packages (IWPs) play a key role in integrating findings across work packages and supporting wider and deeper public engagement.

Sustainability Work Packages

Ensuring infrastructure designs contribute to full spectrum sustainability for coastal communities

In a context of rapid climate, ocean, and social-ecological change, a key challenge is to learn from different coastal communities, from groups of rights holders and stakeholders, from citizens, and to support the development of their capacity in strengthening and designing infrastructures for navigating through change. Sustainability Work Packages are based on principles of co-producing knowledge, with aims to learn from and support peoples of Atlantic Canada in creating sustainable coastal infrastructures. These WPs are working with Indigenous groups, industry organizations, and governance actors to strengthen, develop, and design coastal community infrastructure that can better navigate future change.

  • First Nations Data Sovereignty and Infrastructures for Atlantic AAROMs (WP Leads: Dr. Max Liboiron, Memorial University, Department of Geography and Ken Paul, Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick)
  • Building collaborative interdisciplinary research infrastructure in Atlantic Canada’s lobster fisheries (WP Lead: Dr. Paul Foley, Memorial University, Environmental Policy Institute, Grenfell Campus)
  • Perceptions of climate change and social futures (WP Leads: Dr. Howard Ramos, Western University, Department of Sociology and Dr. Karen Foster Dalhousie University, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology)
Safety Work Packages

Designing safer maritime and coastal infrastructures for Atlantic Canada

Safety Work Packages are addressing critical needs for proactively designing maritime and coastal infrastructure for Atlantic Canadian industries, coastal communities, and workers that is both safer and less environmentally damaging. Maritime work is among the most hazardous in the world. Climate, ocean, coastal, and industrial change will create unique challenges for the health and safety of seafarers, fish harvesters, and workers in coastal ports and facilities such as aquaculture, including for those commuting to and from remote locations. These challenges need to be addressed while simultaneously reducing the environmental hazards associated with these infrastructures.

  • Improving safety and reducing the environmental footprint of marine vehicles by design and operation (WP Lead: Dr. Lorenzo Moro, Memorial University, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering)
  • Acting on weather & climate: networks and infrastructure for adaptation/mitigation decision making (WP Lead: Dr. Joel Finnis, Memorial University, Department of Geography)
  • Search and rescue in remote regions (WP Lead: Dr. Robert Brown, Memorial University, Marine Institute)
Inclusion Work Packages

Helping to ensure infrastructure designs support inclusion, social justice, and equity

Ocean and coastal environmental degradation and change, unsafe and unsustainable resource development, and coastal community restructuring can exacerbate exclusion from ecosystem benefits, social injustice, and inequities. These problems often result in disproportionate impacts on disadvantaged groups such as people from lower socioeconomic standards, women, youth, immigrants, injured workers, people with disabilities, and resource-dependent coastal communities, with few economic development alternatives. By directly engaging multiple, critical understandings of inclusion and its relationship to social justice and equity, Inclusion Work Packages are developing new knowledge that can improve conditions for equitably engaging and including diverse groups (different genders, old and young, immigrants) to support their capacity and resilience in contexts of ocean, coastal, and social-ecological change.

  • Building resilient coastal communities through social and community enterprise (WP Lead: Dr. Natalie Slawinski, Memorial University, Faculty of Business Administration)
  • Return to work after work injury or illness: challenges for marine and coastal workers in Atlantic Canada (WP Lead: Dr. Kim Cullen, Memorial University, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation)
  • Inclusion, social justice and equity in urban and rural coastal communities (WP Lead: Dr. Nicole Power, Memorial University, Department of Sociology)
Integration Work Packages

Supporting integration and knowledge mobilization

Although each WP identifies links with other WPs, four additional projects are working to strengthen, consolidate and optimize FOCI integration. Each of these integration work package (IWP) projects are undertaking activities to coordinate elements of FOCI WPs, ensuring integration of overarching FOCI objectives and research questions into WP research designs, and to coordinate and synthesize knowledge mobilization outputs identifying infrastructure designs that can enhance the capacity of ocean industries and coastal communities to safely, sustainably, and inclusively navigate climate, ocean and social-ecological change.

  • Leveraging Existing Communities of Practice for FOCI Outreach & Dissemination (WP Leads: Dr. Joel Finnis, Memorial University, Department of Geography)
  • Sustainable Coastal Atlantic Canada Dialogues (WP Lead: Dr. Mark Stoddart, Memorial University, Department of Sociology)
  • Artistic infrastructure for navigating ocean and coastal community change (WP Lead: Dr. Barbara Neis, Memorial University, Department of Sociology)
  • Foresighting sustainable coastal community infrastructures (WP Leads: Dr. Robert Stephenson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and University of New Brunswick, Department of Biology and Dr. Paul Foley, Memorial University, Environmental Policy Institute, Grenfell Campus)



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MacKenzie Young, Project Manager (myoung@mun.ca)