Designing sustainable, safe and inclusive coastal communities in Atlantic Canada

Announcing UN World Oceans Day 2021

Happy World Oceans Day 2021!

This World Oceans Day’s theme ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’ is especially relevant in the lead-up to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which runs from 2021 to 2030. The Decade will strengthen international cooperation to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society.

To protect and preserve the ocean and all it sustains, we must create a new balance, rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity relates to it. We must build a connection to the ocean that is inclusive, innovative, and informed by those who depend on it, as well as by lessons from the past.

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About FOCI

The Future Ocean and Coastal Infrastructures (FOCI) program is facilitating innovative transdisciplinary research and outreach focused on the creative co-design of infrastructures to prepare for change and build safe, sustainable and inclusive communities in Atlantic Canada.

FOCI’s co-principal investigators Dr. Paul Foley and Dr. Lorenzo Moro 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.

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Navigating through an ocean of change is a challenge for coastal communities and their livelihoods. FOCI's Sustainability Work Packages are working with stakeholders to develop and strengthen infrastructures that contribute to full spectrum sustainability.


Did you know that maritime work is among the most hazardous in the world? FOCI's Safety Work Packages are proactively designing safer maritime and coastal infrastructures for industries, coastal communities and workers in Atlantic Canada.


Current ocean challenges can exacerbate exclusion and create disproportionate impacts on disadvantaged groups. FOCI's Inclusion Work Packages are helping ensure infrastructure designs support inclusion, social justice and equity for resilience amidst change.


FOCI’s Integration Work Packages are working to consolidate and expand opportunities for insight, engagement and knowledge mobilization, identifying infrastructure designs to safely, sustainably and inclusively navigate climate, ocean and social-ecological change.

A Year in Review

Although FOCI launched during a challenging year, our Consortium has made some great initial progress towards our program goals.

FOCI welcomed new team members, MacKenzie Young as Project Manager and Mirella Leis as Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator. An additional 36 Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) were recruited from within Canada and abroad to support the program’s research and outreach activities and our network continued to expand with seven new partners coming on board.

Together, our team has produced several publications and research outputs, shared research through seven conference presentations, and facilitated engagement amongst Consortium members and external stakeholders through virtual workshops, presentations and outreach. The first Sustainable Coastal Atlantic Canada Dialogues Sessions was held in October 2020 and set the foundation for communicating FOCI research and effectively engaging with our partners. FOCI also started working in collaboration with the Ocean School and Homarus Inc. on the development of educational resources and media for elementary and junior high school audiences aligning with FOCI’s core themes.

A strong foundation has been set in our initial year and we look forward to continued momentum and progress.

An Ocean of Opportunities

Blue Future Pathways

Regional Coordinators

Apply as soon as possible

Blue Futures Pathways aims to connect youth across Canada with education, employment and funding opportunities that inspire and support them in developing a successful career in the emerging Sustainable Blue Economy. Our partner Fishing for Success in Petty Harbour, NL is currently hiring a student for this position on a four-month contract with possibility for extension.

Contact Kimberly Orren at for more information.

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Mitacs Elevate

Post-doctoral Fellowship

Apply by June 30, 2021

Mitacs Elevate is a postdoctoral fellowship with an exclusive professional development curriculum component. Over the two-year fellowship, fellows receive a minimum stipend of $55,000/year and extensive customized professional development training valued at $7,500/year non-cash value, as they divide their time between their partner organization's project and academic institution-based research with their academic supervisor.

Spring 2021 call for applications is now open!

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The Robin Rigby Trust

Funding for Collaborative Coastal Research

Apply by October 31, 2021

The Robin Rigby Trust supports coastal and nearshore conservation research conducted by young people, and encourages international collaboration. The fund is seeking proposals for projects focused on environmental and resource management, social and economic development, conservation and biodiversity surveys, and policy studies, with a specific emphasis on improving livelihoods of those living in coastal communities.

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The Conversation Canada

Science Writing Workshops

Apply as soon as possible

The Conversation Canada hosting a series of science-writing workshops for faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students at Memorial University. On a two half-day virtual training, participants will learn about The Conversation Canada, develop story ideas about their research and get feedback from peers and editors on their story pitch. Participants should come with a story idea (or two) in mind to work on. Those interested must email

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Don’t Miss the Boat! Upcoming Events

Improving Ocean Sustainability through Science Commercialization

Panel Discussion

June 10, 2021 | 7:00 pm EST | Online

This discussion organized by the Ocean Frontier Institute and partners will explore the opportunities for commercial ventures to make a positive impact on ocean health and sustainability. Three outstanding founders who have established companies that will make a positive impact on the oceans will discuss the many pathways for ocean science commercialization in Canada.

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Small-Scale Fisheries Open House

World Fisheries Day Celebrations

June 8, 2021 | All Day | Online

SSF Open House is a week-long series of online events organized by Too Big To Ignore in celebration of World Oceans Day 2021. The series brings attention to the importance of small-scale fisheries, celebrates their contributions, and facilitates a dialogue about an inclusive, equitable and just development of the ocean. Join their final and main full-day event on ‘Capacity & Prospects’ on WOD!

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The Ocean: Life & Livelihoods

UN World Oceans Day 2021 Annual Event

June 8, 2021 | 10:00 am - 05:00 pm EST | Online

Produced by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations, in partnership with non-profit organization Oceanic Global, and presenting partner Blancpain, supported by La Mer, this year’s annual event will shed light on the wonder of the ocean and how it is our life source, supporting humanity and every other organism on Earth. On June 8, 2021, we will be hearing from over 40 thought-leaders, celebrities, institutional partners, community voices, entrepreneurs, and cross-industry experts at this day-long online event.

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Rachel Kelly, Researcher Spotlight

Researcher Spotlight

Meet Dr. Rachel Kelly

Dr. Rachel Kelly is a marine socioecologist. Although she is Irish, Rachel is currently based in Tasmania, Australia where she completed her PhD at the Centre for Marine Socioecology. Due to COVID-19 restraints, Rachel joined the FOCI team remotely in August 2020 and continues to work remotely from the Centre for Marine Socioecology.

Role in FOCI

Rachel works within Integration Work Package ‘Foresighting sustainable coastal community infrastructuresunder the supervision of Dr. Paul Foley and Dr. Rob Stephenson. Her research focus within FOCI is to further current understanding of the concept of foresighting (i.e. an approach for creatively identifying possible, plausible, alternative futures in the medium to long term). In this role, she is working to bring together an international interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers (FOCI International Community of Practice) to co-determine and define use and development of foresighting in the marine context. This project will form the basis for recommendations of foresight use to other WPs of FOCI.

In addition, Rachel is leading the development of the FOCI Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Caucus in collaboration with Finbar Hefferon, Integration Work Package ‘Sustainable Coastal Atlantic Canada Dialogues’. The HQP Caucus was established at the end of 2020 and since then, has expanded into a growing group of young and junior FOCI researchers including research assistants, Masters and PhD students, and postdoctoral researchers. The aim of the nascent Caucus is to enable and equip these junior researchers with the skills and networks needed to support them in achieving FOCI research aims, and their own personal career goals.

Voices of early-career researchers

FOCI is a forward-looking transdisciplinary project that is working to bring diverse groups and perspectives together to co-create visions of, and directions to, future ocean and coastal sustainability. Perspectives and insights from junior and early-career researchers will be key to achieve these aims. These are the next generation of ocean leaders who will most contribute to the success of sustainability goals and agendas.

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), launched earlier this year, has established an early-career ocean professionals (ECOPs) working group to empower ECOPs to have say in co-creating visions and actions towards a more sustainable future. Rachel is working within this international, inter- and transdisciplinary group of ECOPs to engage diverse groups and perspectives in co-creating visions for our future oceans. In doing so, she is sharing and developing her expertise in interdisciplinary marine science – working to increase collaboration and co-operation in research that can better equip us with engaging with ocean futures – including foresighting, ocean literacy, social licence, and marine citizen science.

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In Memoriam

Brenda Grzetic dedicated much of her life to bringing women’s voices to the forefront of research and policy. She was a strong advocate for reducing the structural inequalities that impact women in all occupational areas, including fisheries. Brenda was a member of FOCI’s Advisory Committee. Her loss is deeply felt and we are forever grateful for her legacy in NL’s feminist movement and her contributions to FOCI.

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