The world’s oceans are a critical part of the Earth system. Sound knowledge and understanding of the oceans is essential for mitigating human impacts on the global environment and for promoting sustainable economic use of the marine environment, including: the safe and sustainable use of natural resources; the assessment of and adaptation to climate change; deep knowledge about complex and interconnected ecosystems; our understanding of the entire Earth system;
and health and public safety. Knowledge and understanding, in turn, depends on access to accurate, rich, available, and integrated ocean data, much of which is generated by regional Ocean Observing Systems (OOS) operating in our ocean and coastal zones. Such data is also increasingly relevant to stakeholders outside the oceans community, with a recent report suggesting that the industry sector engaged with ocean observation had revenues of over $7 billion in the U.S. alone, driven in part by their national OOS (NOAA, 2016). A careful re- examination of our data management practices, including how we share, access, and use data, is necessary to ensure we are leveraging Canada’s ocean data to best support scientific excellence, foster collaboration and innovation, and harness ocean data to inform decision-makers and other stakeholders.
The Expert Forum on Ocean Data Management (November 18-19, 2015 in Montreal, Canada) brought together national and international experts and stakeholders to present and evaluate international best practices in managing data from ocean observations, the current state of ocean data collected and managed in Canada, and goals and visions for the future of ocean data management (ODM) in Canada. Planned based on input from the Community of Practice on Ocean Data Management (CoP ODM), and organized and sponsored by the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network, this forum built on previous events including a national Data Management Workshop (March, 2014) and a joint DFO-MEOPAR Workshop on Ocean Data Management in the Atlantic Canada Region (July, 2015). Over fifty participants from government, academia, and the private sector attended.