Special Session 14 (SS14): Wednesday, September 20, 2017 11:00 – 12:00

Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance: Implementing the Galway Statement

Tikahtnu Ballroom B

Name of Convenor/Organizer: Craig McLean(NOAA) and Katie Geddes(NOAA)

Email Contact of Organizer: katie.geddes@nullnoaa.gov

Session Format:  TownHall

Attendance: Open to all attending OCEANS’17 and Exhibition Pass Holders

The Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation was signed in Galway, Ireland on May 24, 2013 forming a research alliance among the United States, Canada, and the European Union known as the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA). This cooperation is intended to increase shared knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and its dynamic systems by aligning our ocean observation and research efforts to improve ocean health and stewardship and promote the sustainable management of Atlantic resources. At present, AORA is comprised of four active international working groups in the following thematic areas: Aquaculture, Ecosystem Approach to Ocean Health and Stressors, Ocean Literacy, and Atlantic Seabed Mapping.


The overarching objective of the Aquaculture Working Group is to facilitate enhanced scientific cooperation and sharing of best practices to increase overall scientific knowledge and support a well-aligned ecosystem-approach to the management of aquaculture. This working group seeks to leverage research activities in a way that takes advantage of synergies in work already underway, coordinate the planning of relevant activities and resources, and develop ways to work together more strategically.


The aim of the Ecosystem Approach to Ocean Health and Stressors Working Group is to promote research to understand the North Atlantic Ocean to support the application of ecosystem based management (EBM) in order to improve ocean health, promote ocean stewardship, and advocate for the sustainable management of its resources. This collaboration will result in improved environmental and ecosystem assessments and increased understanding of stressors, vulnerabilities, and risk in order to increase ecosystem resilience, conserve biodiversity, manage risk, and appropriately determine competing social, economic, and environmental priorities.


Key objectives of the Atlantic Seabed Mapping Working Group include identifying the issues and priorities that need to be addressed by seabed mappers in order to prepare a unified seabed map of the shared North Atlantic Ocean, focusing on the need for an Atlantic seabed map; to progress data availability, harmonization and standards; and improve communication and sharing of best practices.


The Ocean Literacy Working Group cuts across all priority areas of the Galway Statement. This collaboration engages with international stakeholders representing ocean science, formal and informal education, government, marine education, business, industry and policy. This working

group is integrating ocean literacy elements into the Atlantic Seabed Mapping Working Group and the Aquaculture Working Group, and has the capacity to network to integrate other ocean literacy programmatic efforts where appropriate, including the awareness campaign on Marine Litter, following the G7 Science Minister’s Declaration. This networking capacity is enhanced through work on the Sea Change International Advisory Group and other programs, including the Global Ocean Science Education and UNESCO IOC.


Furthermore, AORA has leveraged the strengths of each signatory by solicited cross-cutting contributions. A number of high profile Horizon 2020 projects designed to support the implementation of the Galway Statement in the Atlantic are now underway. The US is leveraging opportunities through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Canada has established a marine working group of academic, government and industry researchers, and program leaders to facilitate information distribution, coordination of existing research efforts, and networking and has provided opportunities for access to Canadian vessels to support ongoing efforts under AORA. This Town Hall will provide an overview of the progress on the implementation of the Galway Statement, opportunities for collaboration, and opportunities for collaboration.


Principal Author: Craig McLean1

Co-Authors: Trevor Swerdfager2, John Bell3, Karen Davison2, Sieglinde Gruber3, Terry Schaefer1, Katie Geddes1

1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office, United States of America

2 Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

3 European Commission, European Union