The idea for OMRN originated at a meeting of ocean and coastal researchers and managers from across Canada, in Aylmer, Quebec in June 2000. This workshop identified the need to obtain a better understanding of human uses of the ocean, to improve its management, and to draw on social science, humanities, legal and policy perspectives. Workshop participants acknowledged the need to provide increased funding to achieve this goal, and to build an organizational framework to encourage interdisciplinary communication among researchers themselves, and between researchers, managers, coastal communities, and others research users. The response: the OMRN was formed in February 2001, with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
Today the OMRN is a network of over 500 Canadian researchers, managers, interested individuals and agencies working together, sharing information and collaborating through a myriad of partnerships.
OMRN is committed to networking as a mechanism to promote effective ocean and coastal management research and practice in Canada. We build connections among OMRN members and beyond – researchers from all disciplines, and research users from government, industry, community groups, Aboriginal peoples, and ocean-related organizations – as well as disseminating and mobilizing knowledge, facilitating value-added research, supporting student training and undertaking policy outreach. OMRN works with over 50 partners across Canada, including governments, Aboriginal peoples, NGOs and universities.
A fundamental OMRN goal is to transform research into ocean management and policy insights, working to integrate effectively social, economic and cultural factors. A continuing role on the national stage is to help facilitate policy, management and educational initiatives to support sustainable use and conservation of Canada’s oceans and coasts. Ultimately, it will be healthy oceans, healthy coastal communities and sustainable uses of the sea by Canadians that will mark the success of OMRN and our partners across the country.
OMRN recognizes that networking today is much more complex than simply “passing along” information. More than ever, networking is about articulating the right information to the right people, in the right language, at the right time. Consequently, we focus our networking on (a) re-working or re-creating the knowledge base to fit the need, audience and situation; (b) facilitating and convening to meet on-ground goals and advance the state of knowledge; and (c) facilitating collaborations to better understand opportunities and challenges. The strengths and value of this networking are reflected in the quality of the initiatives the OMRN has carried out to date, including National conferences, thematic workshops, collaborative agreements and networking arrangements, documentation of ocean and coastal management activities, creation of new knowledge on key thematic areas through a combination of scholarly and public publications, and helping to develop the ocean management research agenda in Canada.
Increasingly, OMRN has come to recognize that it has roles to play that were not anticipated at its inception. As the first ocean management network in Canada, we are consulted on and provide support for a wide range of emerging initiatives, collaborations and new networking. The OMRN has lessons to share, knowledge to learn and new partnerships to hone, helping to contribute to the broader picture of ocean management and policy in Canada. The OMRN will continue to assist where possible in encouraging or facilitating the exchange of ideas and experience that contribute to sustaining the progress of ocean and coastal management.