Advancing the coordination of Canadian Ocean Science and Technology

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ORCA – Oceans Research in Canada Alliance

Advancing the coordination of Canadian Ocean S&T

A square graphic with three rows, each displaying an ocean scene, and number information as follows:” 400+ Members, 120+ Organizations, 1 Goal. Your National Forum for Everything Oceans!”

A composite graphic with 4 images: a rosette instrument, scientist working from a boat, a scientist looking over maps and a robotic arm working under water. It also includes the ORCA logo and the following text: “Keeping a finger on the ocean’s pulse! Follow us on Twitter @CanOceanSci”

Keep your Finger on the Pulse!


Building ORCA


Graphic with waves in the background, colourful circles on the left with silhouettes of sea creatures, and with the following text on the right: “Building an Oceans Research in Canada Alliance Workshop. L’atelier Bâtir une alliance de la recherche océanique au Canada. “ The wordmarks for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Government of Canada appear at the bottom.

ORCA was established in 2016 to address the challenges facing Canadian ocean S&T: namely the vision gap, the coordination gap and the information gap. ORCA began with a 2017 Workshop to determine what kind of organization ORCA should be.

Key players in Canada’s ocean research community came together, from government, academia, NGO’s, Indigenous organizations and industry. They developed a draft vision and the foundational principles of ORCA, and articulated the preferred future for ocean science in Canada.

A blue pyramid is sub-divided into rows with the following words, one per row: “Resilience, Inclusivity, Alignment, Transparency, Communication.”


The Challenge


A vertical stack of blue boxes numbered 1 through 6 on the left. Each blue box has one of the following sentences:

  1. Align Efforts, Plans and Funding Around Shared Priorities
  2. Advance the Sharing of Infrastructure
  3. Science in Support of Public Policy, Regulation and Decision-making
  4. Encourage Innovation and the Commercialization of Knowledge and Technology
  5. Work Towards a Cohesive Voice for the Ocean Science Community in International Fora
  6. Communicating Ocean Science and Technology

The 2017 Workshop also developed 6 key themes or “Challenge Areas” to frame ORCA’s discussions and activities. These are cross-cutting and cover some of the key areas that were identified for us to address as a community, in order to advance ocean S&T in Canada. Some initial information gathering and organizational activities were also recommended to get the Alliance up and running.

A screenshot of the bilingual ORCA Community Platform home page, including the ORCA logo, a calendar, and a few links and images which are not discernable.


Who We Are - How We Connect


An organizational diagram with three components: a large box labelled “Community of Practice”; inside that box is a smaller box labelled “Council”; and beneath the two is a separate small box labelled “Secretariat”.

ORCA is an inclusive alliance of all those who work in ocean S&T in Canada: from ecologists, to fisheries managers, to knowledge holders, to oceanographers, to tech designers, and beyond!

The Community of Practice includes all of the above and is our national forum for discussions on ocean S&T. ORCA connects us all, and enables us to better identify partnership opportunities, align our efforts, share our knowledge, and work together.

The Council is the leadership body for ORCA, facilitating collaboration, promoting coordination and encouraging engagement.

The Secretariat supports the community in their collaborative efforts.

Our hub is the ORCA Community Platform, an online tool that facilitates coordination and collaboration.


A Culture of Collaboration


A blue, rectangular graphic that includes three coastal images, with the following text below: “Creating a Culture of Successful Collaboration. Oceans Research in Canada Alliance 2018 Meeting – Summary Report.” There is also the ORCA logo below, and a reference to the #OceanSci.

In April, the community assembled for ORCA 2018 – which was the first large scale meeting of ORCA. The meeting’s theme was Creating a Culture of Successful Collaboration: Societal challenges surrounding global oceans are increasingly complex and require enhanced collaboration at the local, regional, national and international levels and across disciplines and sectors. The ocean S&T needed to respond to these challenges must be multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral.

The meeting included community building sessions and also included targeted discussions on how we can advance ocean S&T to meet our preferred futures, under each challenge area. The ORCA 2018 report summarizes all of the community-recommended initiatives and outlines the paths forward for our collective work on oceans.


Get Involved!


A graphic composed of 8 hexagonal boxes in a honeycomb pattern. The first hexagon contains the text “Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition” with their logo (a red maple leaf surrounded by blue waves). The second hexagon contains the text, “UN Decade of Ocean Science”. The third hexagon contains the text, “Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition”. The fourth hexagon contains a photograph of a panel of 5 female experts, sitting. The fifth hexagon says, “National Infrastructure Working Group”, The sixth hexagon contains the text, “And More!”. The seventh hexagon shows a photograph of a panel with one man standing, and two people sitting. The eighth and final hexagon shows An image of the coast, with waves crashing.

ORCA now has a community driven work plan, and cross-cutting, multi-disciplinary work is already beginning on many of the recommended initiatives. Leaders from within the community have stepped forward, and building on discussions from ORCA 2018, are making a difference right now! From the National Infrastructure Working Group’s efforts on coordinating vessels, to the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition’s national strategy, there are so many initiatives to choose from and so many ways for you to get on board and become a leader!


Become a Member!


Contact the ORCA Secretariat to become a member. Membership is free and grants you access to the ORCA Community platform, including its contact lists, calendar of events, news updates and communications.

Three ocean images appear at the bottom of the poster. The first on the left is a coastal view with rocks in the foreground, and waves crashing. The middle image is of arctic icebergs floating in a calm sea. The last image on the right is of a coast with a small rock in the foreground, and a small island offshore.