Fisheries and Oceans Canada Minister Dominic LeBlanc visits the Canadian Coast Guard vessel CCGS Vector to recognize the importance of the DFO Science At-Sea program and science collaboration

News release

Bella Bella (British Columbia) – Understanding our oceans better is a critical step toward protecting them more effectively and ensuring they are healthy and abundant for the future.

That’s why Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc today recognized the importance of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) 2018 Science-At-Sea program and collaboration with science partners  by visiting the Canadian Coast Guard science vessel CCGS Vector currently exploring areas near Bella Bella and Klemtu, British Columbia. DFO’s scientists are partnering with Oceana Canada, the Heiltsuk and the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nations, the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA), and Oceans Network Canada, to gain a better understanding about how best to protect the area’s aquatic species and habitats.  

The Central Coast of British Columbia Expedition partners are exploring three sites: Kynoch Inlet, Seaforth Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound with a DFO-designed underwater camera, allowing Minister LeBlanc and Alexandra Cousteau, Oceana Senior Advisor and granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, to observe in real time the corals, sponges and rockfish the mission set out to locate.

The expedition builds on the extensive marine planning work that Central Coast First Nations have co-developed for their territories and contributes to advancing management of areas identified in DFO’s Marine Protected Area Network plan.

DFO Chief Scientist Tammy Norgard, Head of the Deep Sea Ecology Program at the Pacific Biological Station, in Nanaimo, BC, and the expedition team are looking at determining the location of coral and sponge aggregations to define vulnerable marine ecosystems, as well as mapping habitat of rockfish coastwide. The mission will explore:

• Areas of interest for marine-planning where available data is currently limited. Determining the location of coral and sponge aggregations for defining vulnerable marine ecosystems.

• Mapping habitat for rockfish coastwide, especially for Yelloweye Rockfish, which are currently listed as a species of special concern.  

• Areas that include fjord habitats with very high rocky reef complexity and a high diversity of rockfishes, corals, sponges, and basket stars. Understanding of the deep fjord environments is extremely limited as almost no scientific exploration has occurred below 200m depth. 

Imagery from this survey will be available to the public and shared among all partners.

This year’s DFO’s Science At-Sea Program will include more than 130 science missions in Canadian and international waters that will collect key information, necessary for the safe navigation and sustainable management of Canada’s oceans and aquatic resources.

Additional multimedia

Central Coast of British Columbia Expedition partners
Central Coast of British Columbia Expedition partners: First row: Maia Hoeberechts, Ocean Networks Canada; Tammy Norgard, DFO Chief Scientist; Mel Innes, Heiltsuk Nation Hereditary Chief; Robert Rangeley, Oceana Canada. Second row: Coast Guard Captain Ben Axmann; The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; Alexandra Cousteau, Oceana Canada; Parliamentary Secretary Terry Beech; Tristan Blaine, CCIRA. Missing from the picture: Kitasoo/Xai'Xais First Nation representative.


“Science missions such as this one aboard the CCGS Vector are critical to making well-informed decisions about how best to conserve and protect aquatic habitats, how to manage Canada’s fisheries, and how to make sure navigation is safe. We are proud to collaborate with Oceana Canada, the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nations, CCIRA, as well as Oceans Network Canada in this expedition. The data from this mission will be shared among all the partners, and together with Indigenous traditional knowledge, will be used to develop plans for marine protection here on the central coast of British Columbia.”   

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“This mission has been a success. We wanted to find the corals and sponges, and not only have we found them, but the findings suggest that they are probably in a lot of places in the coastal areas of British Columbia.”

Tammy Norgard, DFO Chief Scientist, British Columbia Central Coast Expedition

Associated links


Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Media Inquiries

Vincent Hughes
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 
613 992 3474



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