About BIO

BIO is a modern oceanographic research facility, established in 1962 by the Federal Government of Canada (the former Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, now Natural Resources Canada) and is located on the shores of the Bedford Basin in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Over the last 50 years it has grown to become Canada's largest centre for ocean research. The Institute performs targeted research, mandated by the Canadian government, to provide 'peer' reviewed advice and support to government decision making on a broad range of ocean issues, including sovereignty, safety and security, environmental protection, the health of the oceans, safe and accessible waterways, the sustainable use of natural resources (fisheries, minerals, oil & gas) and the integrated management large ocean management areas.

Bordered by three oceans, Canada has a 240,000-km coastline, the longest of any country in the world. Its continental shelf represents an area about 40% the size of the Canadian landmass. Against this background, Canada must collect information about all aspects of its ocean resources; this information is vital for land-use and coastal planning, ocean management and reducing risk from natural and anthropogenic hazards. In and under the oceans, enormous quantities of natural resources reside in the water column or lie buried in the bedrock; these include stocks of fish, shellfish and marine plants, oil and natural gas and mineral resources. This can mean economic sustainability for generations of Canadians and is the basis of our collective efforts to submit a claim under article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Our UNCLOS work will form the scientific basis for a claim for the seabed rights over an area beyond the 200 miles of our current exclusive economic zone.

Oceanography, by nature, is a multidisciplinary research field, involving geological, physical, chemical and biological research disciplines. To solve problems related to the oceans, BIO houses over 600 researchers, engineers, technicians, natural resource and environmental managers, and support staff from a variety of different disciplines. Currently, four federal departments are located at BIO: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Environment Canada (EC), and the Department of National Defence (DND). The facilities are all managed by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC).

DFO has a number of different Branches working at BIO. The largest is the Science Branch with the Regional Director of Science also being the Director of BIO. There are five Science Divisions at BIO: the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS); Ocean Sciences; Population Ecology; Ecosystem Research; and Strategic Planning, Advisory Activities and Outreach. The Oceans, Habitat and Species at Risk Branch has all four of its divisions located at BIO. The Informatics Branch provides all appropriate computing services as well as being a national centre of long term data storage and handling. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Branch is represented at BIO with the Regional Aquaculture Coordination Office. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has a technical services section at BIO which provides a broad base of support to our fleet of ocean and coastal vessels. The CCG will soon have a much larger presence at BIO with the relocation of the CCG Dartmouth Base from its present waterfront location on Parker Street to BIO.

NRCan is represented by the Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic). It has become Canada's principal marine geo-science facility and its scientific research expertise focuses on marine and petroleum geology, geophysics, geochemistry and geo-technology. GSC Atlantic is the source of integrated knowledge and advice on Canada's coastal and offshore underwater landmass and is also leading the national program for UNCLOS.

DND supports its ocean surveillance and security activities through the Maritime Forces Atlantic's Route Survey Office located at BIO. In co-operation with CHS and GSC Atlantic, multi-beam surveys of areas of the sea floor of specific interest to DND are conducted, analyzed, mapped and charted.

The Marine Water Quality Monitoring Unit of Environment Canada conducts sanitary and water quality surveys and analyzes the samples at the microbiology laboratory at BIO in support of the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program.

PWGSC has a dedicated team of facility service specialists that keep the entire BIO Campus operating effectively and efficiently.

About Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)

The Department was established by an Act of Parliament in 1979 and is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs in support of Canada's scientific, ecological, social and economic interests in oceans and fresh waters. DFO is a national and international leader in marine safety and in the management of oceans and freshwater resources. Departmental activities and presence on Canadian waters help to ensure the safe movement of people and goods. As a sustainable development department, DFO will integrate environment, economic and social perspectives to ensure Canada's oceans and freshwater resources benefit this generation and those to come.

The Department's guiding legislation includes the Oceans Act (1996), which charges the Minister with leading oceans management and providing coast guard and hydrographic services on behalf of the Government of Canada, and the Fisheries Act (enacted in 1868), which confers responsibility to the Minister for the management of fisheries, habitat and aquaculture. The Department is also one of the three responsible authorities under the Species at Risk Act.

DFO Vision
Excellence in service to Canadians to ensure the sustainable development and safe use of Canadian waters.

DFO Mission
It is our mission, as DFO employees, to deliver to Canadians the following outcomes:

  • Economically Prosperous Maritime Sectors and Fisheries;
  • Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems; and
  • Safe and Secure Waters.

About Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

Although Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) was created by an Act of Parliament in 1994, the department can trace its roots back more than 150 years to the beginnings of one of the Government of Canada's oldest organizations. It was in 1842 that the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) was established as Canada's first scientific agency. Out of a "small and dark room" in Montréal, it conducted a geological survey of Canada to determine if the mining industry was viable enough to support the development of an industrial economy in Canada. From very humble beginnings, NRCan grew into Canada's premier agency for geo-scientific information and research.

NRCan works to ensure the responsible development of Canada's natural resources, including energy, forests, minerals and metals. We also use our expertise in earth sciences to build and maintain an up-to-date knowledge base of our landmass and resources. NRCan develops policies and programs that enhance the contribution of the natural resources sector to the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. We conduct innovative science in facilities across Canada to generate ideas and transfer technologies. We also represent Canada at the international level to meet the country's global commitments related to natural resources.

NRCan Vision:
Improving the quality of life of Canadians by creating a sustainable resource advantage.

About Environment Canada (EC)

Environment Canada was first established by the Department of the Environment Act in 1971. EC's mandate is to preserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment; conserve Canada's renewable resources; conserve and protect Canada's water resources; forecast weather and environmental change; enforce rules relating to boundary waters; and coordinate environmental policies and programs for the federal government. Its programs reflect the mandate and are organized under four broad business lines: helping Canadians adapt to their environment; reducing the impact of pollution; conserving biological diversity; and, supporting sustainable development. EC administers over 2 dozen acts either in whole or in part and uses a number of regulations and agreements to fulfil its mandate. It also enters into agreements with individual or multiple parties to define mutual commitments, roles and actions on specific environmental issues.

The Department employs about 6000 people and has an annual budget of over half a billion dollars. Approximately 60 percent of its workforce and 80 percent of its budget is devoted to science and technology activities.