Workshop Report

photo of MERIDIAN team discussing Soundscape Atlas
Author:   Ines Hessler - Senior Data Manager

On August 16 and 17, 2018, our first MERIDIAN workshop entitled “The Canadian Ocean Soundscape: Models, Tools and Integration Points” took place at the Atlantica Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It brought together members of the geographically disperse MERIDIAN team and various representatives of the Canadian ocean acoustics community.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide a platform to engage stakeholders, establish collaborations and connections among ocean acoustic researchers, the marine non-academic community, Big Data analytics and data management experts. It was also important for MERIDIAN to learn about existing initiatives to leverage synergies and reduce the duplication of effort. We believe that together we can find technological solutions for many of the current problems around noise exposure from e.g. ships and raise awareness about this issue.

The agenda turned out to have a great balance between presentations, panel discussions and breakout groups allowing every participant to actively contribute to the workshop and provide thoughts and suggestions. The workshop started with keynote presentations by Dr. Stan Matwin, MERIDIAN PI, and Dr. Mike Smit from the School of Information Management at Dalhousie University, and was followed by an expert panel discussion about ‘Ocean Acoustics - Current Priorities and Challenges with the greatest impact on Future Opportunities’ (panel members: Dr. Fred Whoriskey - OTN, Dr. Andréane Bastien - SLGO, Brad Covey - SLGO, Mark Woods - Ocean Sonics Ltd., Dr. Andrew Wright - DFO, Dr. Francis Juanes - MERIDIAN/UVic). During the breakout session and the numerous networking breaks there were plenty of opportunities for detailed discussions about topics and projects relevant to Canadian ocean acoustics research. The breakout group discussions covered high-level topics such as key areas and topics MERIDIAN could focus on in the coming 2.5 years, potential future directions to ensure MERIDIAN’s sustainability and acoustic data analysis and visualization tools we could invest time in developing. Already existing project teams had the opportunity to meet in person, discuss their work in more detail and make joint decisions on how to move the project forward.

Throughout the workshop we received lots of feedback and valuable suggestions so our work will have the highest possible impact and use to the community. The main outcomes worth highlighting include.

  1. Align our efforts and strengthen our collaborations
    MERIDIAN team members are based at various universities across Canada (Dalhousie University, UQAR, SFU, UBC and UVic), which makes efficient communication and collaboration a tad more challenging. Being able to meet face-to-face with a larger number of the geographically disperse MERIDIAN team members was a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our relationships, decide on better communication pathways and discuss ongoing or emerging projects.
  2. Improve our roadmap
    Projects evolve over time and we are no exception. The initial MERIDIAN proposal was submitted in 2015 and officially launched in November 2017. With over two years between the project submission and its launch it was time to reevaluate our objectives and adjust our roadmap accordingly. During the workshop we received great feedback from project stakeholders, researchers, government and private sector representatives. This provided us with the necessary insight into the communities needs to ensure that we develop and implement a service and tools that will be valuable to the ocean acoustics community.
  3. New partnerships and connections
    Workshops and conferences are a fantastic way to meet new people, learn about exciting projects, dive into new collaborations, drink too much coffee and eat too much cake while doing so. This workshop certainly was no different and gave us the opportunity to connect with some of the Atlantic Canada based CIOOS (Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System) members, industry, government and NGO’s. The workshop took place about 3 weeks ago and we are currently in the process of catching up and scheduling meetings with various new contacts to talk about potential near-future collaborations.

From MERIDIAN’s perspective the workshop was an incredible success and we were very pleased to welcome such a variety of ocean acoustic enthusiasts. We are aware that without the financial support of MEOPAR, Dalhousie University President’s Office and Springboard Atlantic the workshop couldn’t have been realized. We appreciate their support and would like to thank the workshop funders sincerely.

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